War Plan Red: The United States’ Secret Plan to Invade Canada and Canada’s Secret Plan …
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War Plan Red: The United States’ Secret Plan to Invade Canada and Canada’s Secret Plan …

September 30, 2019


>>David Ferriero: Good afternoon. I’m David
Ferriero, the Archivist of the United States. It’s a pleasure to welcome you here, physically
here, in the William G. McGowan Theater, and those of you who are joining us on CSPAN and
on our YouTube Channel. Today we’re going to hear about War Plan Red, America’s plan
to invade the nation that shares with the United States the longest international border
in the world. Our author is Kevin Lippert. He describes how both the United States and
Canada, actually Canada first, had drawn up plans in the 1920s and the 1930s to invade
each other. The U.S. plan was declassified in 1974. To put things in perspective, Kevin
takes us through the history of the rivalry between the colonies, the United States and
what was once called British North America. Before we go any further, several programs
are coming up very soon in this auditorium. Tonight at 7:00 we’ll continue our series
with Supreme Court justices with tonight’s guest, Justice Samuel Alito, Yale Law Professor
and Constitutional Scholar Akhil Reed Amar will focus on ideas, viewpoints and issues
related to the Constitution and the impact on the American people. And Wednesday, November
4, Betty Boyd Caroli will discuss her new book, “Lady Bird and Lyndon.”
To learn more about these and our upcoming programs, consult our monthly Calendar of
Events. There are copies in the lobby as well as signup sheets where you can receive it
by regular mail or email. Our guest today is Kevin Lippert. Kevin was
born in Leeds, England, but grew up in the United States in Ohio and attended Princeton
University where he studied history and architecture. In 1981 he founded Princeton Architectural
Press, a publisher of books on architecture, art, design, and visual culture, which he’s
run for the past 34 years. Today he lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with his wife,
daughter, and two sons, one of them who is an Officer Cadet in the British Army.
Regarding the topic of his book, Lippert told a Boston Globe correspondent that today the
two nations, United States and Canada, are for all intents and purposes one country,
a situation they have been moving towards since being allies in World War II. The Rochester
Minnesota Post Bulletin said Lippert’s book revived interest in the long forgotten plan
since the presidential candidate said a fence along the Canadian border is something we
could legitimately consider. Ladies and gentlemen, Kevin Lippert.
>>[Applause]>>Kevin Lippert: Thank you very much. I’d
like to thank David and Douglas for inviting me here and to you for either sharing or sacrificing
your lunch hour to learn a little bit about some archival history which I hope you find
interesting, maybe even a little bit humorous. I want to start by telling you a little bit
about how this project came about. David said I got a degree in history. So like most people
with degrees in history, I needed to formulate a plan B as far as a career. So after a trip
through architecture school, I ended up in publishing where I spent a lot of my days
worrying about what kinds of books might appeal to people and one of those conversations I
had with our Canadian distributors who asked me, Well, are you working on any books that
might appeal to Canadians? I said, I don’t know. What appeals to Canadians? She said,
Well, I don’t want to misquote her but I believe she said Canadians are always worried about
what Americans think about them. And I said: Hmm, I don’t know. That doesn’t really. I
don’t think we have anything in the plans. And then the next day almost, I saw this article.
I thought, well, there you go. That says something about how we feel about Canada. We don’t even
care enough about them to have a plan to invade. We liked Iraq enough to invade them but Canada,
our friendly neighbor, apparently is just not as interesting. And then the Pentagon
says, no, there are no plans to invade Canada. And then somebody said maybe we should invade
Canada; we can pay for Obamacare. So it was starting to sound like a teenage
boy who tells his friends, no, I don’t like that girl even though he spends his time thinking
about her. So it turns out, of course, that there was, in fact, a plan to invade Canada.
And that’s War Plan Red, which was unearthed in 1974 by a Canadian journalist who came
into this building and asked John E. Taylor, your former director and I think kind of a
legend in the archives universe, he said, What’s the weirdest document you have here?
To which Taylor said, without hesitation, Oh, War Plan Red.That’s America’s detailed
plan to fight a war against Britain on Canadian soil. So I thought, well, there you go. That’s
what we’re going to talk about. And that will certainly appeal to Canadians and maybe some
Americans. So I went back and I dug through the history
of the U.S.Canada border and the many kind of contretemps we’ve had since the founding
of at least in the United States. All the problems start here. This is in Yorktown,
the surrender of Wallace to Washington in 1781. And then from there to the Paris Peace
Treaty, the negotiations. The British were sort of -are there any British people in here
besides me? They were kind of sore losers and refused to sit for the portrait. So the
painter painted them out and said to hell with you.
Lord Buckingham and David Hartley were the British team. They asked the American team
you may recognize some of those people — Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, John Adams, and Henry
Lawrence. They said, well, what would it take to negotiate a peace treaty with you? And
Ben Franklin said, oh, that’s easy; we would like the 13 colonies plus Quebec, St. John’s,
Newfoundland, Rupert’s Land, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward’s Island. And why not? We just
won a war where you used Canada as a staging ground and if this is going to be a great,
new North America country, we should have the colonies plus British North America.
Well, this was too much for the British. They said, no, we can’t do that. So the negotiations
in fact, the British were barely willing to acknowledge the independence of the new country.
So the idea of somehow both acknowledging our independence and giving us all of Canada
was just not going to happen. So the negotiations dragged on for almost
two years. And finally, in 1783, they agreed to draw a line. And here’s what it says. From
the Atlantic through the Great Lakes to the northwestern most point of the Lake of the
Woods and thence on a due west course to the River Mississippi.
Using this map. This map was created by David Mitchell. David Mitchell was born in Virginia
and went to Edinburgh to study medicine. He dropped out of medical school after two years
and moved back to Virginia to practice medicine anyway without an MD. But in his time in Scotland
he got used to the nice, cold drizzle and found the heat of Virginia a little insufferable
so he and his wife moved back to England and London where he set up shop not as a doctor
but as an botanist and cartographer. So while there he made this map of North America using
whatever information he could find in London, which did not include any astronomical data
for latitude or longitude. So the map is full of errors.
So, for example, on this map, drawing a line from the northern west corner of Lake of the
Woods to the head of the Mississippi makes sense because he has those two sort of right
opposite one another but in reality you can’t do that unless you draw a diagonal line right
through Minnesota, which is what happened. I don’t know if there are any Minnesotans
here. That’s what the Northwest Angle is, one of several exclaves which habits of the
United States that are surrounded completely by Canada. So Elm Point, Minnesota, you can
only get to by going through Canada and ditto Province Point, Vermont, and Point Roberts
in Washington State. So Mitchell’s poor cartography coupled with
the fact that several people thought Canada slipped through our fingers left the group
of people known as the war hogs itching for a fight with Britain to take back the country
that should have been ours. One of those was Henry Clay, Speaker of the House, nicknamed
The Dictator. I have drawn a line here that when he saw he was looking for an excuse.
The HMS Leopard fired on the Chesapeake in 1807, looking for sailors to press into service.
So Clay stood up in Congress and said: Our wrongs have been great, our causes just, and
if we are decided in firm, success is inevitable. Thomas Jefferson said that taking Canada was
simply, quote/unquote, a matter of marching. So they could be forgiven for thinking victory
would be easy. By this time the U.S. population was eight million compared to Canada’s 500,000.
Canada had only 6,000 troops. I should say Britain had only 6,000 troops and the states
more than twice that. And Britain was bogged down at home in a bruising war against Napoleon.
And many Americans were born in America or emigrated there. In fact, British General
Isaac Brock declared most upper Canadians were quote/unquote essentially bad and so
American they would welcome a regime change. So war was declared in June of 1812. But what
nobody could foresee was the ineptness of American soldiers.
Here’s a little battle map of the Canadian Front. Most of the War of 1812 was played
out on the Canadian Front. When I was in high school, either I didn’t pay attention or we
didn’t spend a huge amount of time on the War of 1812. Maybe because it’s not a great
story from the American perspective. Here are three battles, if you want to call
them those, three military engagements between the United States and the British on the Canadian
Frontier. The first up was William Hull who attacked Canada and managed to lose Detroit
in the process. Hull was a Revolutionary War hero and marched his troops from Ohio to Detroit
but not knowing that during the march the war had been declared, so he didn’t know sending
a schooner up the river loaded with supplies, a few wounded, and plans, secret plans, for
an invasion of Fort Malden near the Detroit River was a bad idea. So the British intercepted
this schooner and knew all about his secret invasion plan.
Hull and his troops arrived in Detroit where they found only whiskey and soap and launched
their attack on Amherstburg, presumably clean but drunk. The British, commanded by Sir Isaac
Brock, were expecting him, no surprise. And Brock enlisted the aid of sympathetic Native
Americans led by Tecumseh, panther across the skies. The family said, “Who are the white
people that we should fear them? They cannot run fast and are good marks to shoot at.”
Hull was easily defeated. He took the bait when Brock issued a call for surrender on
the grounds that he quote/unquote could not control the numerous body of Indians once
the battle started. So Hull surrendered without a shot. He was court martialled and sentenced
to death, but the sentence was commuted due to Hull’s advanced age.
Next we tried Queenston Heights led by General Van Rensselaer, who received intelligence
that Brock left the British camp so he gave orders to attack in miserable conditions.
His rousing speech was not quite Henry IV. He told his troops neither rain, snow, or
frost will prevent the embarkation. That was not enough to keep his boatsmen from deserting,
taking with them the oars for the invasion. So the disorganized Americans were gunned
down and sunk in spite of greater numbers, although the British did lose Isaac Brock
who had not left and had just gone for the day to Detroit and got back in time to be
shot. You see him there lying fatally wounded, urging his troops on to rout the Americans.
An increasingly worried secretary of war tried once again on the Canadian front with an attack
this time on Montreal led by Henry Dearborn, nickname Granny, who also expected to be welcomed
by disgruntled Americans as liberators. I don’t know if that sounds familiar. I think
we’ve heard that recently. Under the cover of night in November,1812,
Dearborn sent 500 of his 6,000 troops across the border, many of them suffering from dysentery,
diarrhea, measles or Typhus. In the confusion of the cold and dark, Americans accidentally
opened fire on one another. And the reinforcements refused to cross the border hearing all the
chaos. Dearborn called a hasty retreat all the way back to Plattsburgh, New York. It
was a fellow officer wrote, A miscarriage without even the heroism of disaster. Not
exactly sure what that means. So the entire campaign against Canada, 03,
produced nothing but disaster, defeat, disgrace, ruin, and death, complained the Green-Mountain
Farmer, a Vermont newspaper, and the treasury secretary wrote to President Madison, The
series of misfortunes exceeds all anticipations made even by those with the least confidence
in our inexperienced officers and undisciplined men.
Things were a little better on the ocean, where the U.S. Navy held its own against the
mistress of the sea, the Royal Navy. The highlight was, of course, the USS Constitution which
chased down and sank the HMS Guerriere, was only the sixth defeat for the British Navy
in over 200 battles in the previous 20 years. This completely outraged the British. The
London Evening Star described the upstart American Navy as a few fur-built frigates
manned by bastards and outlaws. So they were upset. I won’t use the pword on CSPAN here.
But happily for the British, the war, Napoleon was defeated and Britain could turn its attention
back to its other war. By the end of 1840 tripled the number of men in Canada to 52,000
and went on the offensive. First stop was Maine.
The poorly manned Eastport surrendered without a shot. Castine — this is the map on your
right, 40 Americans looked out the window and saw 2,500 British troops so they blew
up their supply and fled into the woods. Undeterred, the Brits sailed up to Machias giving them
control of 100 miles of Maine coast and most of the land inland. People in Maine were offered
the choice of taking an oath of allegiance to the crown or leaving. Most took the oath.
It is scarily conceivable to imagine the joy of the inhabitants,complained a local newspaper
about Mainers taking oath of allegiance. Many Mainers hoping for lower tax and easier trade
with Canada. So Washington hit back where it hurts and
suspended mail service to Maine. Amazingly, this did not bring Mainers to their knees,
many of whom were keen to continue illegal smuggling with Canadians and Castine became
an R&R destination for British troops and remained under British rule until the end
of war. Having essentially taken Maine, Britain turned
its attention down here. These pictures are probably familiar to you. In August 1814,
they came down to the Chesapeake. British General Robert Ross complained about the American
soldiers, country people who would have been much better much more appropriately employed
attending to their agricultural occupations than in standing with muskets in their hands.
These farmer soldiers fled so quickly, in 100 degree muggy DC weather and wool uniforms,
to be fair, that Ross complained it precluded the possibility of many prisoners being taken.
Ross and his men arrived at the White House to find the food on the table still warm.
And although they judged the wine as, quote, very good, for a tip they burned the White
House, Capitol, Treasury, War and State Departments. This was the tipping point in an increasingly
popular war. Our affairs, said Navy Secretary William Jones, are as gloomy as can well be.
Deserters was extremely high. Executions for desertion, 13% of troops, and the nation’s
finances were in ruin. The U.S. government defaulted on its debt and stopped patients
which had been flowing into Canada to finance the war. We had been buying British bonds,$2
million in gold in 1814 alone. The Chesapeake invasion caused a run on the banks. And with
only worthily treasury notes, the administration had no money to fund the war or pay troops,
many of whom were in arrears for six, 12 months or even more.
What little money remained flowed into Canada, mostly from British troops eager for food.
2/3 of our Army in Canada, boasted George Prevost, Commander and Chief of British America,
are at this moment eating beef provided by American “contractors” drawn principally from
the states of New York and Vermont. President Madison who was described as miserably shattered
and he would be gone had little choice but to sue for peace even with the sentiment America
had few cards to play at the negotiating table. The paper conceding: have declared war and
failed; the nation must pay the price. So the Treaty of Ghent could be spun as having
lost the war but won the peace. The Times of London agreed calling the treaty deadly
and disgraceful for letting the United States off without a sound flogging.
Basically, the Treaty of Ghent restored the border to its 1783 definition which left open
the door to even more [Indiscernible]. The first is the War of 1839 also known as the
Lumberjack’s War. As eager as many people in Maine had been to do business with Canadians
during the War of 1812, Maine Lumberjacks were fed up with people from New Brunswick
coming over and stealing “Their trees.” So in this early 1839, they organized the posse
of militia to invade New Brunswick and capture any New Brunswick lumberjacks who were felling
trees that Maine thought belonged to them. They were promptly captured by Canadian militia
and marched off in chains to prison there. So the United States, I think maybe overreacted,
authorized 50,000 men under the command of Winfield Scott, nicknamed Old Fuss and Feathers,
and $10 million to start a war against New Brunswick to release the Maine Lumberjacks.
But Lord Ashburton, Chancellor for Britain, was keen not to have another armed conflict
with the United States and gave a good chunk of New Brunswick to the United States in order
to avoid war. The whole territory we were wrangling about, he wrote later, was worth
nothing. There was only one casualty, Hiram T. Smith who either froze to death, drown
or was run over by a cannon, supply wagon, trampled by a horse or all of the above. His
grave marker is on route U.S. 2A in Haynesville, Maine. It’s not worth the drive, I hate to
say. The next one, another pork I don’t know what
it is about pork and Canada. This one was on the West Coast. Here, because of the vagaries
of Mitchell’s map and the fact that with mostly unchartered territory, it wasn’t clear where
the border went through San Juan Island. So both United States and British citizens occupied
San Juan Island. The British super merchant Hudsons Bay company had a farm there and had
also squatter settlers on the northern part. So one morning an American lineman cutler
looked out the window of his farmhouse and saw a British pig rooting around in his potato
garden so he did what any good American farmer squatter would do, he shot the pig dead. So
this quickly escalated into an argument about whose fault that was and what reparations
and claims. And then in a sort of early echo of the Falkland
Islands resulted in a military buildup, the United States sent in 500 troops under the
charge of George Picket. The British sent in five warships and 2,000 men. And with the
clear military advantage, the Governor General of Vancouver told the British Rear Admiral
to invade San Juan Island and engage the Americans. He said in reply, to engage two great countries
in a squabble over a pig is foolish. So this war also ended with a negotiated settlement.
Each side kept 100 men, one end of the island, one at the other. You can go there today and
that is worth the trip. You can see the remnants of the English and American camps on San Juan
Island. I’m going to skip ahead. We’ll come back to
Captain Semmes in a minute. The Civil War was a bit complicated, a little
bit complicated, because of Britain’s alleged neutrality. There was an idea that maybe if
we couldn’t fight our way into Canada, maybe we could just buy the damn thing. William
Seward had done this from Alaska. Russia was eager to sell and were afraid Britain would
take Alaska anyway if they had another war, which they had disconcluded. Seward wanted
to surround British Columbia with American soil, which he saw was the first step of annexation.
He also sought to buy Greenland from Denmark but Denmark was not interested. Interestingly
this idea resurfaced at the beginning of World War II. America tried to buy Greenland to
keep the Germans from building bases there. But our offer was declined.
This is the check which you might have seen before for the purchase of Alaska from Russia.
The idea of buying Canada reached its pitch that House Resolution 754 in 1866, introduced
by Massachusetts Representative Nathaniel Banks, to assume $85 million in Canadian debt,
give $10 million to the Hudsons Bay company, and put another $50 million to shore up Canada’s
infrastructure. But that bill died a quiet death in committee. Some things never change.
In the Civil War, British was neutral but like a lot of neutrality, that meant they
just wanted to do trade with both sides. One of the things they did was build ships for
the confederacy. They built this amazing ship, the CSS Alabama. And this is Captain Raphael
Semmes aboard this ship, 250footlong swoop which was propelled either by steam or sail.
They boarded 450 Union ships, sank or burned 66 of these, and took 2,000 prisoners without
a single casualty. It really was the confederate death star.
Worst of all, it sank the USS Griswold which was a relief ship that left from Boston flying
both stars and stripes and the union jack headed for Lancashire with corn, flour and
other supplies for England’s textile workers who were suffering because they couldn’t get
any cotton from the South. So after the war, the Union sought reparations
for the sinking of the Griswold and for the damage laid by the Alabama. They were looking
for an official apology from England and reparations of several hundred million dollars. Well,
England was not about to apologize and they didn’t have several hundred million dollars
because their economy was in tatters because of the fallout from the textile industry.
So we had an idea. Hamilton Fish, Grant’s Secretary of State, said, tell you what, why
don’t you give us Canada and we’ll call it square. But we Britain was not going to trade
Canada for Alabama. Some IrishAmericans had a better idea. Why don’t we trade Ireland
for Canada? Are there any Canadians here who can answer,
is this Fenian? My Canadian friends say Fenian. So I’ll say it until there we go. Thank you.
The Fennans were IrishAmericans, many Civil War vets who founded the Fenian Brotherhood,
based on their “Intense and undying hatred toward the monarchy and oligarchy of Great
Britain.” They had over $500,000 in cash and called themselves the Irish Republican Army,
which is the first known use of that acronym. Their crazy idea was to capture Canada and
exchange it for Ireland in a kind of hostage swap or maybe they could found an Irish Republic
in North America or maybe they could encourage the United States to follow with troops and
annex Canada. Secretary of State William Seward, looking
at 1.6 million Irish voters, kind of gave the approval to this idea.
So the Fenians expected to be welcomed as liberators but overlooked the fact that most
CanadianIrish were Protestants and not Catholic. Outside of Quebec was the lobby for annexation
to the United States to break ties with Britain. 1866 they invaded the Indian Island of New
Brunswick but were quickly turned back by Canadian militia. In June, a couple months
later, they tried again and floated 1,000 men on barges from Buffalo and they were defeated
here in the Battle of Ridgeway by much better prepared and armed troops and crossed back
into the United States where they were arrested for violating American neutrality laws. The
arrests were mostly for show and they were quickly released, allowing them to mount several
more raids in the next couple of years, one in 1870 from Franklin, Vermont, where they
amassed 15,000 firearms and three million rounds of ammunition. This raid failed. And
the U.S. agreed to stop looking the other way and President Grant issued a proclamation
reaffirming our neutrality act. The raids had unintended consequence of galvanizing
Canadian national spirit which may have hastened Britain granting independence. Dominion Day,
July 1, 1867. This created a new country out of New Brunswick, Upper and Lower Canada,
basically Ontario and Quebec, and Rupert’s Land, 1.5 million square miles of land owned
by the Hudsons Bay company, most of western Canada, as well as parts of Minnesota, Montana,
and the Dakotas. The general sense was that this new Canadian
nation would not survive long and would be, to quote The New York Times, peacefully absorbed
into the great North America Republic. Others were more bellicose. The publisher of the
St.Paul Press pushed for annexation saying if the northwest technically belonged to Canada,
it belonged geographically and commercially to Minnesota.
In Michigan the state senator warned this continent is our land and we might as well
notify the world that we will fight for it. The railroads were willing to play hardball,
too. The president of the Northern Pacific Railroad sent a letter to his Canadian counterpart
of the Canadian Pacific, that he had intentionally built the land close to the border to keep
Canadians out of the western territories where there was some sympathy towards annexation
by America funded by some wellplaced bribes. In fact, the largest hotel in Winnepeg flew
the stars and stripes. Canada’s new political status and growing
national identity increased tensions with the United States. The Trent Affair of 1861,
a few years earlier, was a case in point. A confederate ship was intercepted carrying
two diplomats, urging British recognition of the confederacy. The immediate reaction
of the Union was to declare war in England in response. So Canada readied troops, 46,000
men in arms, at the U.S. border. Lincoln wisely decided that he could “fight only one war
at a time.” So the crisis passed. Canadian nationalism reached fever pitch with
World War I when obligated as part of its empire status to send 31,000 troops actually
sent 38,000, although many of those without training equipment. Historians explained that
Canadian nationalism sprang not just going to quote from Darwinian — ideas of racial
superiority and influences on educated thought but also from the unifying symbol of the British
Empire. British national consciousness was inextricably entwined with imperial glory,
rights, and responsibilities. The empire was the source of stability and belief in their
superiority, pride, and duty. Half the globe colored pink really meant something
in a way today we find incomprehensible if not downright embarrassing. It is almost impossible
for us to realize how strong a unifying feature the empire was, imperial ties were genuine
force in 1914, and sufficient enough to pull hundreds of thousands of Canadians, Australians,
New Zealanders and South Africans from the white colonial dominions back across the oceans
to volunteer and fight and die for the mother country.
One of these battles was on Easter day in 1917 where the Canadian troops won a decisive
battle after the French lost thousands of men there in the two years prior. Rising nationalism
and success overseas spawned a creation of a new Canadian first movement. We are a northern
people, wrote one, more manly, more real than those weak marrowed bones and superstitions
of an effeminate South. That’s us. This also carried racist overtones. Canadians
were stocked with sturdy Europeans while the states were watered down with vagrant populations
of Italy and other countries of southern Europe, indeed noted the writer, suggested that what
Canada really needed to prove its new macho identity was a rattling good war with the
United States. It’s not clear whether the witness to the
battle, a young Lieutenant James Sutherland Brown known as Buster to his family and friends
— no relation to the shoe or clown of the same name — if he felt this way about the
United States. But he did think that war with the U.S. was inevitable and that the best
defense was a good offense. After World War I he returned to Canada and became Director
of Military Operations and Intelligence and began to give the whole thing some real thought
in 1920. There was good reason to think that a war
between the United States and Britain was inevitable, although we joined World War I
late, we loaned the U.K. a huge sum for their war effort, about $22 billion against a gross
domestic product in Britain at the time of $27 billion. And a secret communique from
the American Ambassador on August 1920 relayed Britain’s irritation that we expected money
to be repaid. In cash or gold, no less. He warned that Britain was nervous about our
becoming too serious a rival on the world stage and would “try to block us at every
turn” and surround us with potential enemies. So Buster Brown rounded up a few of his colleagues
and did some undercover espionage. There’s Buster on the left. And there they are undercover.
They loaded up with some Kodak Brownies into a Model T and surveyed the roads and bridges
of upstate New York and Vermont. Some of his field notes are hilarious. The
people of Burlington, Vermont, seem, “Very affable and not as American as other U.S.
cities that we have visited.” In rural Vermont he noted that: Americans if not actually lazy
have a very deliberate way of working and apparently believe in frequent rests and gossip.
The women throughout appear to be heavy and not a comely lot. Similarly a large number
of men in the state of Vermont are fat and lazy but pleasant and congenial.
In a comical echo of William Hull, Buster was convinced invading Canadians would be
welcomed if not as liberators then at least as bartenders since Vermonters were eager
for the drink prohibition denied them. Asking a local to identify Camel’s Hump, one of Vermont’s
highest peaks, Brown quipped, “You people here are like the camel. You can go seven
days without a drink.” He defined a large and influential number of American citizens
who were not altogether pleased with democracy and had a sneaking regard for Great Britain,
British law, and constitution and general civilization. I guess what we had was not
quite civilization. On the whole, he concluded, Vermont was at best an obstruction for any
invading Canadian force. Here is the cover of his defense, very Canadian
fashion, self-deprecatingly called Defense Scheme 1 even though it’s the fullon invasion
plan, urging utmost secrecy, lest this document fall into the hands of enemies of this country.
What Buster envisioned was a series of lightning raids, sting like a bee and retreat like a
butterfly, blowing up bridges and roads behind in order to buy time for the British to sail
to Canada’s rescue. You can see here his fivepronged attack. If
you can keep that in mind, you’ll recognize a mirror image of that in a minute.
Like a lot of things, the United States was about a decade behind Canada and it took us
another 10 years to come up with our War Plan Red when the War Department decided they needed
contingency for a war with Britain on Canadian soil, they called in an exercise on peacetime
preparedness. This is the cover sheet. On this one you see the little declassified 1974
stamp on the bottom from your archives. And this is our version of the same thing,
a sixprong attack. I guess maybe we all agreed on what the weak points on the border were.
So we envisioned the war of long duration. This is not going to be a quick lightning
raid. Because Red, what we called the British, although in the words of the planet are phlegmatic,
they are known to fight to the finish and could muster as many as 2.5 million men in
Canada within 40 days of the start of hostilities. The plan was updated in 1935 and given an
extra $57 million, including money to build three secret air bases on the Canadian border
as well as to hold the largest peacetime war games at Fort Drum, only in a grenades log
from the border involving 36,500 soldiers. Soon, however, Britain, Canada and the U.S.
had other enemies to fight and found themselves on the same side in World War II.
That’s the detail of the East Coast version. Washington happily left, spared.
From a population of 11 million people, 1 million Canadians served in World War II and
from scratch built the world’s fourth largest Air Force and fifth largest Navy. Perhaps
in recognition of this supersized contribution, Canada and the U.S. were equal partners in
NORAD when Canada worried about being either a target or collateral damage in a bomb fest
between the states and Russia. And these are the blasters that NORAD command headquarters.
So we were good buddies during the Cold War. We sat sidebyside, One Canadian general and
one American general at the table in NORAD. In 2002 after the 9/11 attacks, President
Bush created NORTHCOM to “Conduct operations to deter, prevent and defeat threats and aggression
aimed at the United States, its territories and interests over the entire North America
region.” Including Canada, Alaska, Mexico, the Bahamas, U.S. Virgin Islands. However,
Hawaii, even pre-Obama, did not make the cut. Based in Colorado Springs, NORTHCOM has unilateral
jurisdiction, and quoting Donald Rumsfeld, to respond to lane and sea threats and attacks
and other major and emergencies in Canada or the United States.
The fact that prime minister declined the invitation to join is a minor detail. Having
similarly passed on the opportunity to send troops into Iraq. Instead he agreed to participate
in what he called a neighborhood watch committee, the bipartisan planning group, BPG, which
morphed into the Security and Prosperity Partnership SPP. CNN journalist Lou Dobbs speculated SPP
was a covert plan to merge the U.S. and Canada after George Bush declared a state emergency
to keep himself in office. Obama did not support the SPP and canceled it in 2009 but not until
NORAD had been expanded to include at least maritime awareness. So, in effect, we kind
of got NORAD and NORTHCOM by commanding the definition of NORAD.
War Plan Red in Defense Scheme No. 1 seem a bit silly now since our two countries have
slipped quietly into peace and our economy and cultures are so intertwined. We are each
each other’s largest trading partner. Our trade last year with Canada, $617 billion
versus $536 billion with China and a deficit of only $32 billion versus $315 billion respectively.
74% of Canadian exports come here and 51% of its imports come from the states. One in
10 Canadians live or work in the United States including 250,000 in Hollywood, and 350,000
in New York City; making New York City Canada’s 15th largest city by population.
Here I made a little chart showing that we snuck in there at the bottom.
700,000 first nation NativeAmericans had dual citizenship, U.S. and Canadian passports,
which makes that larger than the state of Alaska. And more than 60million border crossings
are made every year, 2/3 by Americans coming south and 1/3 by Americans heading north.
So for all intents and purposes, I think you can argue that we are we have achieved some
sort of annexation of one another. There’s a serious book on this subject by a Canadian
journalist, Diane Francis, “Merger of the Century” in which she has a very detailed
argument about why we should form at the very least a kind of European a North America union
like the European Union that together our economy would be so dominant and our military
so dominant that we would be set for the longterm. There are some reasons, however, I should
say with apologies to our Canadian friends here, to consider maybe not to defy a war
plan away forever, to consider an annexation of Canada. Canada has the world’s second largest
reserve of oil in the world after Saudi Arabia. And they have 20% of the world’s fresh water,
which many think will be the cause of future global conflict. They have a functioning healthcare
system and a semi-functioning political system, longer life expectancy, and lower rates of
cancer, stroke, heart disease, and infant mortality. They are a happier nation, seventh
according to the Columbia University’s World Happiest report, next to our number 17. And
if you believe that global warming will continue to melt the Northwest Passage, they will have
one of the hemisphere’s two navigable cross continental sea passages and maybe the only
one if the Panama Canal is ever closed for political or natural reasons. So they bring
some stuff to the table. I honestly had a harder time thinking why
Canada might want to blow the dust off Defense Scheme No. 1 and invade the United States.
Here’s the best I could come up with. Miles of warm southern beaches, although many of
these are already occupied by Canadians in the winter months. Repatriation of many celebrities:
Mike Myers, William Shatner, Joni Mitchell, Justin Bieber and Celine Dion who has been
recently ranked as America’s favorite American singer. I think Americans don’t even know
she’s Canadian. And the real prize I think is the Zamboni company which is located in
California. Plus, if Canada took over the United States, the Stanley cup would never
leave. And we do think about it. Representative Dan
Coates, Representative of Indiana, said in a Senate Defense Appropriations hearing last
June that the Pentagon has a contingency plan on the shelf for just about every scenario
including an invasion of Canada. And then real quickly, all these are in the
book. There are full text transcripts of both Defense Scheme No. 1 in War Plan Red. You
can see back in the day we could list this is all of their ships, the tonnage, the names.
We could do a real detailed inventory of everything Canada had. Maybe that’s in some giant database.
I get the feeling now it’s too big. And ditto Defense Scheme No. 2.
The first thing apparent in the defense of Canada is that we lack depth. I think there
was a 151 population gap in 1920. This is Buster Brown’s thinking about future wars.
Europeans, United States, Japan, or a combination of all of the above attacking Canada. I don’t
want to say he was a little paranoid but I’m happy none of this ever happened. But it’s
fun to look back and see what might have been or at least what some people thought might
have been. I would be happy to answer any questions or
hear any speculations about reasons.>>[Applause]
>>Kevin Lippert: Thank you.>>Very interesting. I’m curious I guess for
the plans of each country looking into taking over the other. If Canada is part of the Commonwealth,
felt the British would have come to their savior?
>>Kevin Lippert: That was completely the plan. That was Buster Brown’s plan. He would
basically invade quickly to buy time for the British to get here.
The British, however, were always a little ambivalent about whether just how much the
Canadians could count on them and sent mixed messages throughout certainly the 19th Century.
On the one hand you’re part of the empire; we will use all available means to defend
you. And on another hand, when approached by American politicians who asked how would
you feel about an annexation of Canada, the reply was: If Canada wants to go, we won’t
stand in the way. So I think Canada counted on that but who can tell? Probably depended
what was going on at home.>>A few blocks from here in 1969, Pierre
Trudeau gave a speech at the National Press Club and he quoted his distinguished and often
drunk predecessor Sir John A. McDonald from an 1867 letter to a gentleman named Mr.Maine
who lived in Calcutta, Indiana, and the one sentence was “War will come some day between
England and the United States. And India could do us yeoman service by sending an Army of
Sikhs, Gurkha and Belluccis, [phonetic] etc., etc., across the Pacific to San Francisco
and holding that beautiful and immoral city with the surrounding California as security
for Montreal and Canada.”>>[Laughter]
>>Maybe that’s in your book.>>Kevin Lippert: No. It should be, though.
Fascinating. That was one of the great pleasures of doing this book was to learn more about
that man. He was an incredible man. He put Canada together more or less singlehandedly
while usually on a bender. There’s a great biography of Sir John A. McDonald which I
recommend to all of you. In the War Plan Red, we anticipated that the
British were going to bring over what we called what the plan called colored troops, Sikhs,
Indians, and other people from the far reaches of the British Empire, troops not to be underestimated
along with, it notes, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, also a force we shouldn’t underestimate.
So the War Plan Red anticipated that these 2.5 million men would, in fact, arrive within
a few weeks of outbreak of war. And though some of these would be British, most of them
would be troops and that those troops were excellent fighters.
There is a letter in the book a draft of the speech that FDR delivered when he accepted
an honorary doctorate at Queenston where, in fact, the Defense Scheme No. 1 documents
are housed in which he said we are such good friends, such great neighbors because we don’t
engage in any kind of secret diplomacy behind each other’s back. I think only a few months
after he signed off on building some fake Air Force Bases near the Maine border.
Thanks for bringing up Sir John A.>>
You and the people who were interested enough
in the topic to attend this lecture might be interested to know about a Nova Scotian
writer called Thomas Raddall who wrote historical novels and works of history that are very
interesting. One of the most interesting is called “His Majesty’s Yankees.” It’s about
the province of Nova Scotia and how nearly Nova Scotia was the 14th colony to join of
the 13 in fighting the American Revolution. I discovered
>>Kevin Lippert: Rattle?>>Raddall.
>>Kevin Lippert: Good. Go buy some books. I will. Thank you for that.
>>Hi. So all of this being the case, how would you summarize the inability of the United
States to take Canada? Was their economy strong and independent? Did they get a lot from Britain?
Couldn’t we interrupt supplies and arms and things like that?
>>Kevin Lippert: In the 19th Century?>>Just overall. I’m asking you for the whole
scheme of things.>>Kevin Lippert: In the 19th Century for
the most part Canada was an extremely poor and agricultural nation. It didn’t even have
a standing Army until 1899 when by obligation of treaty they had to muster some troops to
go fight the Bora war with the British. The RCMPs came out of the Northwest Mounted Police
which was a small force basically aimed to fight liquor runners in British Columbia.
And they had like 450 men. I have the details. An almost equal number of cattle and other
livestock. I don’t know why you need the livestock to fight liquor runners.
I think there was a sense that Canada would basically at some point need to be part of
the United States, that economically it could not stand on its own. And a lot of newspaper
editorials and a lot of writers certainly throughout the 19th Century thought it was
just a matter of time before Canada would be absorbed into the Union just out of more
financial and economic necessity and that probably we didn’t need to waste men and bullets,
having that fight for something that was going to come our way one way or the other.
After that, you know, I think certainly by now in Wikileaks there was a document about
the North America Initiative which was a document about how to sell” the idea of a U.S.Canada
merger to the Canadians. So the idea is not dead by a long stretch but I assume at this
point it would be either by mutual agreement or some sort of passive aggressive war. Instead
of cutting off mail service, we would cut off internet service or ATM machines. Take
away my ATM and my internet service, I’ll become Canadian in a matter of minutes.
>>[Laughter]>>Thank you.
>>I believe you have a poster. I assume that’s the West Coast and what would be called the
Pig War. And that was possibly a close call. Were there any other things later in history,
skirmishes for liquor or other things that you talked about I guess false Air Force bases
and things, you know, shots were fired or things were close to be fired or anything
like that that occurred? I’m talking about the 20th century, I guess
the `20s and `30s, any of that period.>>Kevin Lippert: No. That I know of there
were no almost wars like the pig war. There are still some border disputes. Seal Island,
which is off Machias Seal Island off the coast of Maine is an unresolved border dispute between
the United States and Canada. I think it’s sort of maybe jointly held, maybe officially
American territory but there are two Canadian lighthouse keepers who live there nine months
out of the year. I don’t think either country really feels like pressing it.
There was an American guy who used to sail out it mostly involved lobster pots. Who gets
to put their lobster pots near Machias Seal Island? There was an American lobsterman who
would go out on an annual sail just to plant an American flag in front of the Canadian
lighthouse keepers as a kind of reminder. But that’s as close as there is today. I don’t
think any shots have been fired other than verbal shots about that, thankfully.
>>[Question Inaudible]>>Issues of war aside, there are sometimes
significant trade disputes over timber, over fishing rights between the two countries.
Is that an outgrowth of these earlier low level conflict or is that completely based
on commerce?>>Kevin Lippert: I think absolutely. Also,
in 1968, 1969, we sent the icebreaker the USS Manhattan through the Northwest Passage
without asking permission, without notifying the Canadians. And that caused a great deal
of upset. And after a kind of verbal war between Canada and the United States over that we
agreed that in the future he would notify Canada first when we were going to send one
of our ships through what they see as their territorial waters. But the United States
at that time said we do not recognize your claim to territoriality over the Arctic portion
of the Northwest Passage. So I think that’s probably still an unresolved category.
I say in the book it is hard not to detect the sneer of a bully in that. Well, we’re
going to tell you about it because we don’t think you can do anything about it.
Vladimir Putin planted at the bottom on the Russian side a metal plaque — incredibly
he did not do this himself or bare-chested.>>[Laughter]
>>Kevin Lippert: At the bottom saying that the Arctic is Russian! So he has he also has
some skin in that game I think. No pun intended. And that’s one of the arguments in Diane Francis’
book which is that together the United States and Canada can fight off any Russian threat.
In fact, the Canadian border with Russia is — at least until recently is defended by
a volunteer militia of Canadians using these Enfield rifles which are World War I vintage,
which is what Buster Brown imagined would be the weapon of choice.
>>Where did they have a border with Russia? Above Alaska?
>>Kevin Lippert: Yeah. Yeah. British Columbia, and north of that.
I think most of our lobster and timber and fishing rights have been either resolved or
we just helped ourselves.>>[Laughter]
>>Kevin Lippert: Thank you very much.>>[Applause]
>>Kevin Lippert: As a publisher, I would be completely remiss in not telling you that
there is going to be a little book sale and signing upstairs immediately following. If
you’re feeling so inclined, please come up and buy a book. I’d be happy to sign it.
Thank you for your time.>>[Applause]

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