Friday, February 17, 2006

Who thinks they DON'T have a plan?

Jon Stewart made a joke about invading Canada the other night while interviewing energy expert Peter Tertzakian.

Since Canada is the largest supplier of oil, natural gas and electricity to the United States, he wondered, "Why aren't we invading them?"

Funny, right?

Well, apparently, this isn't new news, since the documents in question were declassified 30-some years ago, but as the Washington Post reported at the end of December:

It sounds like a joke but it's not. War Plan Red is real. It was drawn up and approved by the War Department in 1930, then updated in 1934 and 1935. It was declassified in 1974 and the word "SECRET" crossed out with a heavy pencil. Now it sits in a little gray box in the National Archives in College Park, available to anybody, even Canadian spies. They can photocopy it for 15 cents a page.

War Plan Red was actually designed for a war with England. In the late 1920s, American military strategists developed plans for a war with Japan (code name Orange), Germany (Black), Mexico (Green) and England (Red). The Americans imagined a conflict between the United States (Blue) and England over international trade: "The war aim of RED in a war with BLUE is conceived to be the definite elimination of BLUE as an important economic and commercial rival."

In the event of war, the American planners figured that England would use Canada (Crimson) -- then a quasi-pseudo-semi-independent British dominion -- as a launching pad for "a direct invasion of BLUE territory." That invasion might come overland, with British and Canadian troops attacking Buffalo, Detroit and Albany. Or it might come by sea, with amphibious landings on various American beaches -- including Rehoboth and Ocean City, both of which were identified by the planners as "excellent" sites for a Brit beachhead.

The planners anticipated a war "of long duration" because "the RED race" is "more or less phlegmatic" but "noted for its ability to fight to a finish." Also, the Brits could be reinforced by "colored" troops from their colonies: "Some of the colored races however come of good fighting stock, and, under white leadership, can be made into very efficient troops."

That piece, by staff writer Peter Carlson, ends on an off note, with the kind of joke Ann Coulter or Tucker Carlson would make:
But it would be kinda fun to see Celine Dion and Mike Myers wearing orange jumpsuits down in Guantanamo.


That Guantanamo, always good for a punchline. And "eh?"—brilliant. What a keen observer of Canadian diction.

Another take, posted on Counterpunch today, by Floyd Rudmin of the University of Troms, Norway, sees the humor in this story, as well as a not-so-funny undercurrent.

Rudmin writes:
If U.S. war plans for the conquest of Canada provoke laughter, that is a comment on those who are laughing, not a comment on the war plans. In its day, War Plan RED was not meant to be funny. The 1928 draft stated that "it should be made quite clear to Canada that in a war she would suffer grievously." The 1930 draft stated that "large parts of CRIMSON territory [i.e. Canada] will become theaters of military operations with consequent suffering to the population and widespread destruction and devastation of the country..." In October 1934, the Secretary of War and Secretary of Navy approved an amendment authorizing the strategic bombing of Halifax, Montreal and Quebec City by "immediate air operations on as large a scale as practicable." A second amendment, also approved at the Cabinet level, directed the U.S. Army, in capital letters, "TO MAKE ALL NECESSARY PREPARATIONS FOR THE USE OF CHEMICAL WARFARE FROM THE OUTBREAK OF WAR. THE USE OF CHEMICAL WARFARE, INCLUDING THE USE OF TOXIC AGENTS, FROM THE INCEPTION OF HOSTILITIES, IS AUTHORIZED..."

The lugubrious conclusion made by Mr. (Dr.?) Rudmin is one I've been coming around to for some time now. As godawful evil and incompetent as the current administration has been, they did not just appear out of the blue. They just saw some attitudes that were already well established and took them to a logical (illogical?) extreme.

[T]he core of the militarism that is endangering America and driving us into bankruptcy, disdain, and dishonor is not new. The fundamental causes of the Iraq war cannot be found in contemporary geopolitics nor in the personalities of the Bush administration, as so many critics of the war think. There is something wrong at a much deeper level in American political culture. The American malady of militarism extends across decades, across generations, and is so deeply rooted in the American mind that attacking another nation seems to be the natural, spontaneous reaction of choice.
In fact, the U.S.A. is the least threatened nation on the planet. Its geographic, demographic, and economic size, and its location, give it far greater security than Russia, or Holland, or Hungary, or France, or Finland, or Iraq, or Iran. These nations are easily attacked from several sides, and in modern history have been thus attacked. These nations have reason to be fearful, but in fact are less fearful than is America. Certainly it is impossible for foreign forces to invade and occupy the U.S.A. even should the U.S. have the most minimal defenses.

But Americans feel more threatened than most other people on the planet. The U.S. military budget now exceeds that of all other nations combined. The U.S.A. is now the only nation with two defense departments; one to defend the homeland and one do what? To project "defense" of America outside of our borders into other nations? That is normally called "aggression."
The whole article's worth reading.

Oh, and the Post reporter did ask a Pentagon flak about the status of Canadian invasion plans. His answer: "The Defense Department never talks about its contingency plans for any countries. We don't acknowledge which countries we have contingency plans for."

Note to flak: You know, you work for the Pentagon. This kind of honesty isn't necessary, and it's certainly not expected from someone in your position.

Not much reassurance, though, for our friends up north.

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