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Raiding the Icebox

Canadian Mounties
Any invasion of Canada by U.S. forces shouldn't underestimate the legendary Royal Canadian Mounted Police. (Patterson Clark -- The Washington Post)

The stakes were high: If the British and Canadians won the war, the planners predicted, "CRIMSON will demand that Alaska be awarded to her."

Imagine that! Canada demanding a huge chunk of U.S. territory! Them's fightin' words! And so the American strategists planned to fight England by seizing Canada. (Also Jamaica, Barbados and Bermuda.) And they didn't plan to give them back.

"Blue intentions are to hold in perpetuity all CRIMSON and RED territory gained," Army planners wrote in an appendix to the war plan. "The policy will be to prepare the provinces and territories of CRIMSON and RED to become states and territories of the BLUE union upon the declaration of peace."

The Sudbury Offensive

None of this information is new. After the plan was declassified in 1974, several historians and journalists wrote about War Plan Red. But still it remains virtually unknown on both sides of the world's largest undefended border.

"I've never heard of it," said David Biette, director of the Canada Institute in Washington, which thinks about Canada.

"I remember sort of hearing about this," said Bernard Etzinger, spokesman for the Canadian Embassy in Washington.

"It's the first I've heard of it," said David Courtemanche, mayor of Sudbury, Ontario, whose nickel mines were targeted in the war plan.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said he'd never heard of the plan. He also said he wouldn't admit to knowing about such a plan if he did.

"We don't talk about any of our contingency plans," he said.

Has the Pentagon updated War Plan Red since the '30s?

"The Defense Department never talks about its contingency plans for any countries," Whitman said. "We don't acknowledge which countries we have contingency plans for."

Out in Winnipeg -- the Manitoba capital, whose rail yards were slated to be seized in the plan -- Brad Salyn, the city's director of communications, said he didn't think Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz knew anything about War Plan Red: "You know he would have no clue about what you're talking about, eh?"

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