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Defence Scheme No. 2 was a Canadian military strategy developed after World War I outlining the Canadian response in the event of a war between the United States of America and Japan. The primary concern of this strategy was remaining neutral in any conflict between the two countries.

Contents

Origins

Plans for this scheme began immediately following World War I. However, it was not greatly developed until the early 1930s[1], when James Sutherland Brown constructed a rough model of this strategy. The major tenet of Brown’s model was the defence of the Pacific coast in the event of a war between the United States and Japan. General Andrew McNaughton would later transform this model into a commitment towards protecting Canadian neutrality. In 1933, the strategy was finalized. However it was not approved by the government until 1936[2].

Issues

There were several issues that made this strategy of Canadian neutrality unlikely:

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Attitudes

In Canada, there was an anti-Japanese and pro-American sentiment to contend with. It would have been difficult for the government to maintain neutrality and retain the support of citizens if they did not at least attempt to align themselves with the United States.[3]

Commonwealth ties

Due to Canada’s commonwealth ties, if Britain decided to join the Americans in a war against the Japanese it would be impossible for Canada to remain neutral. If Britain went to war it would include Canada by default. This relationship was untested since World War I, and was intact until Canada declared war on Germany in 1939. If Britain joined in such a war it would destroy Canada’s policy of neutrality.[4]

Proximity to the United States

Due to the proximity between Canada and the United States, it was only natural that there would be some overlap in the defence of territory. The United States was testing aircraft and flying through Canadian airspace to Alaska. If Canada allowed the United States to continue this practice, then it was feared that it would lead to an unwanted situation. Effectively this means that Canada was trying to avoid dangerous engagements between either Japan or the United States[5]. Even though the American planes overhead were creating tension and a threat to neutrality, Canada was not willing to risk neutrality in a time of peace. The “Joint Staff Committee suggested that Ottawa tell Washington that it could offer ‘no military commitment in advance of an actual crisis developing.’[6]

References

  1. ^ David J. Bercuson and J.L. Granatstein, “Defence Scheme No. 2” in Dictionary of Canadian Military History (Canada: Oxford University Press, 1992), 61
  2. ^ J. L. Granatstein, Canada's Army: Waging War and Keeping the Peace (University of Toronto Press, 2004), 171. http://books.google.ca/books?id=jqxyhNcha3sC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Canada%27s+Army#PPA171,M1 (accessed January 19, 2009)
  3. ^ Ibid.
  4. ^ Ibid.
  5. ^ Galen Roger Perras and Katrina E. Kellner, “’A perfectly logical and sensible thing’: Billy Mitchell Advocates a Canadian-American Aerial Alliance against Japan" The Journal of Military History, Volume 72, Number 3, July 2008. 816-817
  6. ^ Perras, Roger “‘FUTURE PLAYS WILL DEPEND ON HOW THE NEXT ONE WORKS’: FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT AND THE CANADIAN LEGATION DISCUSSIONS OF JANUARY 1938” Journal of Military and Strategic Studies, Winter 2006/07, Vol. 9, Issue 2. 26-27

Sources

Bercuson, David J. and J.L. Granatstein. Dictionary of Canadian Military History. Canada: Oxford University Press, 1992

Granatstein, J. L. Canada's Army: Waging War and Keeping the Peace. University of Toronto Press, 2004 http://books.google.ca/books?id=jqxyhNcha3sC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Canada%27s+Army#PPA171,M1

Perras, Galen. “‘FUTURE PLAYS WILL DEPEND ON HOW THE NEXT ONE WORKS’: FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT AND THE CANADIAN LEGATION DISCUSSIONS OF JANUARY 1938.” Journal of Military and Strategic Studies, Winter 2006/07, Vol. 9, Issue 2. http://www.jmss.org/2007/2007winter/articles/perras_cont-defence.pdf

Perras, Galen Roger and Katrina E. Kellner. “’A perfectly logical and sensible thing’: Billy Mitchell Advocates a Canadian-American Aerial Alliance against Japan." The Journal of Military History, Volume 72, Number 3, July 2008


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