The world’s powers have to be ready for anything. After all, war could break out at any moment, and they have to be ready to fight. It’s very likely that every country in the world has plans ready to invade each and every one of their neighbors, just in case.
But some of those plans aren’t the best-kept secrets. Some of our plots to crush each other have been leaked—and now we know exactly what would happen if, for example, the US and Canada went to war. These plans might seem crazy today, but if things had just gone a little bit differently, any one of them could have been a part of history.
(10) War Plan Red: The American Plan To Invade Canada
There was a time when the United States wasn’t totally sure what side it would take in World War II. They were still considering the possibility of taking the opportunity to declare war on Great Britain—and it was going to start with an invasion of Canada.
If Great Britain attacked the US, they figured, they would position their troops in Canada. The Americans didn’t want to let that happen, so they were going make a preemptive strike. They would attack Canada first.
Their goal was to take Halifax so that the British couldn’t use it as a port. To make it fast, they would bomb the city with poisonous gas. Then they’d move to Niagara Falls and take over the power plants there.
From there, it would be a full-on invasion, with American troops charging through Quebec and Winnipeg and capturing the nickel mines in Western Ontario. Meanwhile, the Navy would move south and take Jamaica, the Bahamas, and Bermuda. Once they had British America, they figured, Great Britain would plead for peace.
Their only worry was that Canada might declare itself neutral and refuse to fight, in which case they planned on not letting them stay peaceful. If the Canadians tried to be pacifists, they would have to give up their ports and some of their land. Otherwise, the US Army would march in.
(9) Defense Scheme Number One: The Canadian Plan To Invade the US
It’s a bit crazy that the US had a plan to invade Canada, but it gets weirder. Because Canada had a secret plan to invade the US—and they developed theirs first.
As early as 1921, Canada was already worrying that the Americans might attack. They were ready to strike back, and just like the Americans, they planned on doing so with a preemptive strike. They even sent an officer to travel through the US looking for weak spots they could attack.
Canada didn’t actually expect to conquer the United States. They just wanted to keep the Americans busy long enough for Great Britain to intervene. Their plan was to send troops down the West Coast while a team of Quebec fighters took Albany, and Maritime troops took Maine.
They’d catch the US off guard and then, when the Americans recouped, flee back over the border, leaving scorched earth in their wake. Every bridge, railway, factory, and farm would be burned to a crisp, crippling the US and buying enough time for their allies to move in.
If it happened, the Canadians figured, they’d have a lot of allies. Japan, France, and Mexico would join in and help them destroy the United States—because every one of them, they believed, had had enough of “the modern Yank.”
(8) Operation Dropshot: The American Plan To Nuke The Soviet Union
Early on, the US was the only country with access to nuclear weapons, and they had every plan to use them. They developed at least nine separate plans to blow the USSR to Hell and back. One of the most intense ones called for a sudden strike of 300 nuclear bombs on 200 targets in the USSR, followed by a massive land invasion that they expected would be over in no time.
The US government had even marked the date on their calendar. On January 1, 1957, they were going to unleash their nuclear arsenal on the Soviets.
They only dropped the plan when the USSR tested its first atomic bomb. If it hadn’t been for that, the US would have gone through with it and left Russia a smoldering, radioactive wasteland.
(7) Seven Days To The River Rhine: The Soviet Plan To Nuke Half Of Europe
The Soviets had their own plans, of course. They probably had more schemes than we’ll ever know, but one that was written up in 1979 has been leaked—and if they’d gone through with it, it would have sparked World War III.
The plan was based on the idea that NATO was going to launch a nuclear first strike on Poland, which is such a strange notion that some people think it was just penciled in to make the rest of the plot seem more justifiable. Either way, the USSR planned to hit NATO hard.
They were going to launch 7.5 megatons’ worth of atomic weapons at targets in West Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Denmark. Then they would send in the troops to seize every part of Europe up to the River Rhine.
They expected some casualties. Prague and Warsaw, they believed, would be destroyed by nuclear strikes, and they were planning on sending the Polish army on a suicide mission. Within seven days, they predicted, more than two million Polish people would die—and a new world war would begin.
(6) The Nazi Plan To Invade Japan
The Nazis never believed that their alliance with Japan would last. Theirs was a marriage of convenience, and when the war ended, things would change. “Sooner or later,” Hitler warned his staff, “there will have to be a showdown between the white and the yellow races.”
He believed it wouldn’t happen until the distant future, predicting that there might be 100 years of peace before Japan and the Nazis clashed. Still, they needed to be ready for it.
Himmler was tasked with getting the SS ready to fight. His biggest worry was that the Germans would grow complacent and weak during peace. He planned on keeping his soldiers tough by having them carry on with merciless racial eradication and, when they seemed to be getting weak, posting them to “an ice-cold winter” in Siberia.
The key, though, would be to have a population that could handle it. He would spend the next decade getting the German people to breed like “a botanical garden” to get their population as big as they could. When the time came, he predicted, Japan would have an army of more than one billion men. Germany would have to be ready to match their numbers.
(5) National Redoubt: The Swiss Plan To Stop Being Neutral
The Swiss weren’t totally locked into being peaceful. They flirted with the idea of jumping into the war, and in 1940, they nearly did it.
By then, Switzerland was completely surrounded by Axis armies and had to seriously consider the possibility that this whole “let’s leave Switzerland alone” thing might not last. They were pretty sure the Axis could turn on them at any moment, so they started getting ready.
The Swiss withdrew all of their troops from the borders and moved them into the Alps, where they set up a chain of mountain fortresses and bunkers to prepare for an invasion. They also ran drills, reenacting the battles that were happening in the countries next door. And they did everything in their power to let the Axis see them doing it, hoping they’d get the message that if they messed with Switzerland, it wouldn’t be easy.
It wasn’t exactly paranoia. The Nazis had a secret plan of their own called Operation Tannenbaum, and it was exactly what the Swiss had predicted. Switzerland, Hitler believed, was a “pimple on the face of Europe.” If the tides of war hadn’t turned against the Axis, the Nazis would have charged right into Switzerland—and the armies in those Alps would have had to put their practice to the test.
(4) The Turkish Plan To Invade Syria
Most of the plans in this list are decades old, but that doesn’t mean countries have stopped coming up with ways to invade each other. They just try to keep the new ones secret. Sometimes, though, those secrets leak—like in 2014, when Turkey’s conspiracy to invade Syria was leaked onto YouTube.
In the recording, Turkish ministers can be heard talking about a possible terrorist attack on the tomb of Suleyman Shah, the father of the founder of the Ottoman Empire. Rather than being worried about it, one of the ministers says that a terrorist attack “must be seen as an opportunity for us.” If the terrorists attacked, they felt, they would have an excuse to send more soldiers into Syria and launch an all-out war.
Turkish intelligence chief Hakan Fidan took it even further. If the terrorists didn’t attack, he promised, he’d just send in actors to fake an attack. “I’ll send four men from Syria, if that’s what it takes,” Fidan promised. “Legitimacy is not a problem. Legitimacy can be manufactured.”
(3) The Israeli Plan To Invade Iran
From 2010 to 2012, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and defense minister Ehud Barak met on at least three separate occasions to discuss plans to invade Iran. And they would’ve gone through with it, too, if Gabi Ashkenazi, the chief of the Israel Defense Forces, hadn’t stopped them.
Three recordings that show Netanyahu and Barak discussing their plans were leaked onto the Internet. They came the closest to going through with it in 2010 but just needed to convince their ministers to support the plan. Ashkenazi, however, managed to talk them out of it with an impassioned speech about the lives that would be lost.
That didn’t totally stop them, though. In 2012, they ramped up plans again—and this time, it seems that the US Army was going to back them up. They were even running military drills to get ready for a joint invasion of Iran, although, for reasons unknown, they ended up calling the attack off.
(2) Project A119: The American Plan To Nuke The Moon
The plan was partly to conduct a science experiment—which, as far as we can tell, must have been on the effects of overfunding a bored military—but they mostly just wanted to freak the Soviets out. They had scientists crunch the numbers to figure out how to make sure the explosion was visible from Earth, convinced that the USSR would crumble in fear if America blew a chunk out of the Moon.
The US didn’t go through with it because someone managed to convince the military that nuking the Moon wasn’t good PR. They came shockingly close to doing it, though. In fact, they even hired Carl Sagan to work on the secret plot to attack the Moon. And if they’d done it, they would’ve nuked the Moon before ever landing on it.
(1) War Plan White: The American Plan To Fight Its Own People
During the first half of the 20th century, the United States made plans to invade pretty well every country on Earth—including themselves. It was called War Plan White, and it was the American plan to handle “internal disorder”—or, in other words, to fight its own people.
At the time, union workers around the country were fighting for labor rights, and the US government was worried it was going to build up into a communist revolution. War Plan White was their plan to deal with what they called a “leftist-radical insurrection.”
The Military Corps of Engineers were to take over every public utility, while the Navy protected military equipment and the Army marched through the people, trying to keep them in order. Meanwhile, a secret police force was going to be set up in Pennsylvania, which would spy on troublemakers to make sure they ready to stop them.
They’d even started working out the legalities of shooting American civilians, when it would be justifiable, and how far they could go. And as time went on, they reworked it for a new era. The most recent plan that has been leaked was for the US military to fight an uprising of black people wanting civil rights.