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The Secret US Plan to Overthrow the British Empire (Hardback)

War Plan Red

Military > Frontline Books

By Graham M. Simons
Frontline Books
Pages: 256
Illustrations: 200 black and white
ISBN: 9781526712028
Published: 3rd April 2020


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After the Great War, there was much debate in the USA whether the country should isolate itself from ‘old world’ conflicts or follow an imperialist path and become the world’s only super-power. If the USA was to become a super-power, then conflict with Great Britain might result. Consequently, the US drew up War Plan Red. This was a scheme for the USA to invade Canada and the Caribbean which would draw the Royal Navy into North American waters where it would be destroyed. Without the Royal Navy, the rest of the British Empire would be vulnerable to American attacks.

It became clear, however, as the decade wore on, that the Imperialists were not going to gain a clear-cut victory, so other means of achieving their aims would be needed. In 1939 the American military establishment created an intelligence-gathering machine within their Embassy in London under the Ambassadorship of Joseph Patrick Kennedy. Then in spring 1941, a small group of US Army officers travelled to Britain to plan for Anglo-American cooperation should the United States became involved in the Second World War. This was the US Army Special Observer Group, or SPOBS as it was commonly known.

It is questionable whether the Military Attachés and SPOBS activities were ‘spying’, for they were operating – at least in the early days – with the full permission and knowledge of the British Government. Their intelligence-gathering activities spread out as far as the Middle East, Africa, South America, Russia and Asia – far beyond the terms of the original brief. It did not cease with the outbreak of peace – the advent of the Cold War between East and West brought forth a whole new range of subterfuge and behind-the-scenes activities by the CIA.

So, were the Americans allies or spies? Certainly, the SPOBS bled Great Britain white of data and information, sending it all back to the War Department in Washington under the guise of helping. It was also a blueprint that America used in one form or another to ‘encourage’ regime change around the world through the seventy years or so after the Second World War and which continues to this day.

This is an interesting book which provides useful background information.

World Ship Society - Marine News, September 2020

An interesting and complex book about the world of information.

Read the full Spanish review here

Miniaturas JM

An interesting and provoking review of Anglo-American relations and very topical with US Democrats trying to break up the United Kingdom. The romantic view of the ‘Special Relationship’ is at odds with the reality – Highly Recommended.

Read the full review here


War Plan Red is a great story. Importantly, it was approved at the highest level and wasn't just an academic exercise to keep military planners busy. For the wargamer, it offers a number of new scenarios for interwar armies and naval gaming in particular.

Read the full review here

Balkan Wargamer

Fascinating cloak and dagger stuff that really does seem far fetched...

Books Monthly

It should not be surprising to learn that in international relations, friends may think mendacious thoughts. This book is a review of the strand of thought in the United States that promulgated the emergence of the USA as the single dominant world power during the inter war years. It traces the origins of the idea and its development within US circles, supported by several strands of anti-British sentiment. Although the policy did not gain official traction it did sit comfortably in the range of options available to the USA until WW2 (or more specifically Pearl Harbour) demanded a decision. Arguably the USA achieved the neutering of the British Empire through its financial ‘leverage’ during the war and emerged in 1945 as the great war power. An interesting read that brings together several elements of US domestic power plays and particularly that of public opinion in the USA in the 1930’s.

Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide

Michael McCarthy
 Graham M. Simons

About Graham M. Simons

GRAHAM M. SIMONS was one of the founders of the world-famous aviation museum at Duxford near Cambridge where his interest was piqued watching the making of the film Battle of Britain there in the late 1960s. From this, and with an engineering background, he progressed to membership of a number of aviation societies, including sitting on the British Aviation Preservation Council, eventually taking the position of Engineering Director with one group. Graham combines his love of writing with his skills in production to create and publish aviation histories focused on a variety of subjects.

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