Maj Gen Smedley Darlington Butler

Maj Gen Smedley Darlington Butler, USMC

See here for a brief introduction to the Gateau Method.

Our next topic is War Plan Red, the secret strategy approved in 1930 by the US Secretary of War to combat Great Britain, should the need ever arise. At the time, the US’ isolation and Britain’s formidable naval might suggested that Canada would be America’s most appropriate target in case of war. Of course, Canada had its own plan—Defence Scheme No. 1—for a pre-emptive strike against Seattle, Albany and other targets close to the US-Canadian border.

War Plan Red was one of a number of colour-coded war plans, including War Plan White, which was formulated to deal with crises on US soil; White’s descendants were put into practice during the 1992 LA riots and in the follow-up to the September 11 attacks.

For something this big, we’re going to need a pretty significant divergence from our timeline, and for that, we turn to one of my favourite figures from American History: Major General Smedley Darlington Butler. One of the Marines’ most highly decorated officers, Butler became an outspoken opponent of what would become known as the military-industrial complex, and testified before the Committee on Un-American Activities to the existence of the Business Plot to wrest the Presidency from FDR.

So, what if Butler instead agreed to publicly lead the Business Plot, and the Bonus Army succeeded in taking the White House?

Propelled by the unholy alliance of tycoons and industrialists, America might naturally find friends in countries like Germany and Italy. In an escalating series of standoffs, Britain pursues trade sanctions and naval blockades against America. The US pulls out of a number of treaties in disgust, not the least of which is the Four-Power Treaty of 1921. Meanwhile, a select group of Cambridge alumni in the British government arrange to funnel aid to Communist insurgents in the US and its de facto colonies in Central America. America responds in kind, culminating in the invasion of Canada.

And so the battle lines are drawn: Germany and Italy stand with the US against an Anglo-French-Japanese alliance. Russia, officially neutral, warily eyes Germany and covertly supplies aid to Communists within US territory. China and the Philippines become a battleground between Japan and the US; Germany seeks to take back its Pacific possessions; Gandhi fights for independence from the Crown with German and US aid.

What might a Fascist America look like? The veterans of the Bonus Army have been folded into the National Guard, now personally loyal to the office of President. In effect, they serve in the same role as the Sturmabteilung or MVSN; the Silver Shirts (at best a marginal movement in our timeline) become a legitimate, popular political organisation.

Led by a Marine, race relations are a little better in New America—there being only one colour in the Marines—which is to say, still not that great, but Americans of colour, whether they be from the continent or offshore territories, can vote after four years’ service abroad, whereas in our timeline, many African-Americans were denied the vote until 1965.

Some years after the Business Plot, a semblance of democracy has been restored, insofar as elections are being held again. But New America is a one-party state; opposition parties like the Democrats and the Communists have been banned, leaving only Republicans eligible for office.

Amongst the many organisations that the Republicans have banned is, surprisingly enough, the Ku Klux Klan. Although its history of anti-Semitism and hatred towards minorities endear it to the US’ allies abroad, the Klan has long been intertwined with the Democrats in the South, and its calls for Southern separatism mark it as a source of anti-Republican insurgency. The average Klansmen is hardly a hero, however—he’s still the same violent bigot he always was—but he provides a good focus for conflict for when resistance PCs need to cut a deal with the Devil.