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"Heard about Houston?
Heard about Detroit?
Heard about Pittsburgh, PA?"
Talking Heads, "Life During Wartime"
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A plot device that depicts the United States as a target of foreign occupation by another (nation-)state or states. The work will usually focus on the heroic efforts of either or both the US Armed Forces and the La Résistance as they try to defend their homeland.

The background of the invasion usually varies on when the work is set. If it is set pre-1990, it is usually a Cold War that got hot or some other form of Alternate History, such as Nazi Germany and/or Imperial Japan carving an isolationist America up once they've finished conquering the rest of the world. 20 Minutes into the Future will sometimes depict a (dystopian) USA that is no longer a Super-Power but merely a Great (e.g. as it was in 1900) or Second-Rate (e.g. as in 1850) or Third-rate (e.g. 1812) Power that would genuinely be threatened by an invasion from a rival power. Next Sunday A.D. settings will usually be very similar to the Twenty Minutes setting, usually featuring a Russian or Chinese invasion. The US's nuclear arsenal almost never gets employed during these stories, despite the fact it'd be a deterrent as per the whole 'MAD' thing, though its non-use is often hand-waved away by the proliferation of some new technology and/or magic - or by the governments simply going "better to try reclaiming what's ours than doom the whole world". Some works give a handwave towards Mexico becoming unfriendly in the years leading up to the war, so that it can be plausibly used as a base for an invasion (the most common example is a Communist Mexico allied with the Soviet Union).

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If done right, can make for an interesting plot. However, can also be Anvilicious if it is too blatant a rip-off of any real-life war, especially one in which the US was actually involved. It's also rare for the actual logistics of such an invasion to even be described, because it's hard to do so realistically. The United States' geographical isolation from every other major military power means an invasion would be very difficult, but since the logistics aren't really the point of these stories that usually gets handwaved if not outright ignored.

See also Mexico Called; They Want Texas Back and Russia Called; They Want Alaska Back for more specific examples of this trope. Divided States of America sometimes goes hand-in-hand, as other nations come into the country to act as peacekeepers, to secure international interests, or to conquer the splintered US. Goes hand-in-hand with Occupiers Out of Our Country, Fallen States of America and Day of the Jackboot. May or may not involve a Washington D.C. Invasion.

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Sub-Trope of Different States of America and Possible War.

Note that the trope only counts for human invasions on US soil, not alien invasions. (And not that kind of "alien invasion" either.)


Examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • Über: Invasion features an invasion of the continental United States by an army of Nazi super soldiers. They proceed to rampage across the country in scorched earth tactics and destroy numerous cities, including New York City and Washington D.C., while the Americans attempt to stall them while building their own super soldiers. Then the Japanese attack with their own super soldier on the West Coast in a more haphazard guerilla campaign. The invasion is finally halted when the Japanese turn their attention to the Soviet Union, and out of the two Nazi "Battleship" Ubers spearheading the campaign, one is killed, while the other defects, causing the rest of the Nazi invasion force to either surrender or commit suicide to prevent their capture.
  • The Ultimates: The Liberators invade the U.S., level the Statue of Liberty, and plan to execute major government figures.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Parodied in Canadian Bacon: three random schlubs thinks that the US is being invaded by Canada. Hilarity Ensues.
  • In Escape from L.A., a united, Shining Path-led Latin America is on the verge of invading the US.
  • Discussed in Hot Tub Time Machine. Blaine's gang thinks that the time traveling main characters are actually Soviet spies, due to their odd behavior, and the modern-day gadgets that he found in their bags. He mentions the film Red Dawn (1984), which he owns a poster of in his room.
  • Discussed in Pearl Harbor during Roosevelt's first meeting with his advisers after the namesake attack. One general, in underlining just how poor a state the US military is in, states that if the Japanese invaded at that moment they would get as far east as Chicago.
  • Somewhat obviously, Invasion U.S.A. (1952) and to a lesser extent Invasion U.S.A. (1985).
  • The Philadelphia Experiment II: David Herdeg is sent to an Alternate History where the Nazis won World War II and occupied the U.S.
  • Red Dawn (1984): A classic example, in which the USSR invades the Western United States (via a Communist Mexico) and a group of high schoolers' efforts to stop it. The remake has North Korean invaders (originally Chinese, but changed in order to have it marketable there).
  • Six String Samurai. Soviet army remnants show up on the path to Vegas. They aren't in particularly good shape (they ran out of bullets some four decades before the movie takes place), but then no-one else is either.

    Literature 
  • Robert Conroy's Alternate History novel 1901 concerns a relatively limited invasion of the Northeast in the title year by the forces of Kaiser Wilhelm II. The Kaiser's objective here is not to conquer the United States outright, but to force the U.S. to turn over its newly-won colonial possessions of Puerto Rico and the Philippines by essentially holding New York City and surrounding areas for ransom. He also intended to confiscate the U.S. Navy, which America wouldn't need once it had no overseas territory. Unfortunately (for the Germans), the Kaiser didn't reckon with Theodore Roosevelt...
    • Conroy likes to play with the scenario of (usually) German invasions of the USA. His novel 1920: America's Great War posits a scenario in which the U.S., having remained neutral (and the Central Powers thus having won the Great War) is faced with an assault by Germany into California from a German-allied Mexico, and his ebook North Reich has Hitler deciding to not declare war on the U.S. after Pearl Harbor, instead concentrating on knocking Great Britain out of the war, occupying Canada and invading the United States from the north circa 1943.
    • While Hawaii was not yet a state at the time of the novel's setting, Conroy's 1942 depicts the Japanese occupying the islands after the attack on Pearl Harbor proves even more successful than in real life.
  • In Axis of Time, Hawaii ends up being taken by the Japanese in the Alternate History World War II thanks to the use of 21st century tech. The islands are eventually recovered by the US, but the tyrannical Japanese governor slaughters 90% of the population out of spite.
  • Rita Mae Brown's novel Dolley deals with the context for only actual historical invasion of the United States, by the British Army and Royal Marines during the war of 1812.
  • The pulp 1980's series Doomsday Warrior is set After the End in a Soviet-occupied America with La Résistance operating out of hidden conclaves. Somehow the Americans have got the best of the deal; mutation has developed these Freefighters into Super Soldiers who use secretly-developed Ray Guns to curb-stomp the Dirty Communists. Realism needless to say is not a priority in these books.
  • The Fall Of A Nation by Thomas Dixon (author of The Klansman, aka The Birth Of A Nation). Written prior to US involvement in World War I, it has the United States refusing to intervene in the Great War, which stalls to a stalemate. Peace is declared, but it's actually a ruse to allow the combined armies of Europe to invade America.
  • Eric L Harry's Invasion has Chine invading the good old USA thanks to US disarmament. Apparently the blinkered government continued to draw down the US military despite the Chinese conquering the world by going West (having nuked Israel and beseiged Europe).
  • The apocalyptic novel Resurrection Day is set in a USA where the Cuban Missile Crisis led to a nuclear exchange. With the Soviet Union destroyed, Communism fallen, and the USA crippled, the power vacuum leads to a resurgent Britain reversing its post-imperial decline - blamed on American interference - and plotting to avenge the whole 1776 business by grabbing back its North American colonies. And then some. The "Resurrection" of the title is Britain's rebirth as an undisputed world superpower, if only by default as the only country not touched by nuclear holocaust.
  • Lightning In The Night, a novel by Fred Allhoff originally serialized in Liberty magazine during 1940, recounts, in pulp-magazine style, an invasion of the United States by a grand alliance of Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan and the Soviet Union circa 1945.
  • The Man in the High Castle: Set after the fact, this book depicts an alternate 1960s in which the US was taken over by Japan and Germany from the West and East coasts respectively. The Rocky Mountain States is a Japanese puppet.
  • The Mouse That Roared: The Duchy of Grand Fenwick declares war on the U.S. with the intent of losing immediately and raking in the reparation money. So they send over a small army in Medieval armor and spears, expecting to surrender upon reaching American soil. It doesn't quite work out that way.
  • C.M. Kornbluth's novel Not This August begins with the surrender of the U.S. to Soviet and Chinese forces. The novel itself is about the resistance movement.
  • Gloriously depicted in Floyd Gibbons' The Red Napoleon, where the US and Canada make a last stand against Hordes from the East led by a Communist dictator and alleged descendant of Genghis Khan who has already conquered the rest of the world — and the Americans win.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's Sixth Column a small group of American soldiers use weapons based on the convenient discovery of a couple of new fundamental forces to fight the invasion of the United States by "PanAsia", including founding a fake new religion as a cover for La Résistance.
  • The War Against the Chtorr: Happens as a Noodle Incident. A Fourth World "army of economic liberation" lands in the southern United States and promptly gets massacred due to the US secret Robot War technology. Not to mention they US has rigged the computer chips in the weapons they've been selling internationally for the past few decades to detonate upon command.
  • Worldwar: US is just one of the many countries invaded by the Race. Traveling through the country becomes dangerous, supply lines are cut off, people are forced to make do with what they can scrounge. Some of the states end up in Race hands, but, by the end of the main series, the Race vacate the country as part of a peace settlement with the not-empires that manage to hold them off (e.g. US, USSR, Nazi Germany, Japan, UK). Oh, and some cities are nuked by both sides.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The miniseries Amerika shows a Soviet-occupied US ten years after the invasion. Subverted though in that the US surrendered without much of a fight after an EMP pulse took out most communications. Most Americans are more interested in getting on with life than resisting. Amerika was a work that was developed as an apology to conservatives, particularly the Reagan Administration, in response to The Day After. The latter showed how terrible a nuclear war would be for the (many) survivors; the former argued how a Soviet victory would also be unacceptable.
  • Like the novel it is based on, The Man in the High Castle depicts a United States ruled by the Axis Powers except for a central Wild West-like region in the Rocky Mountain States which is allowed to be independent as a buffer zone.
  • Parodied by Saturday Night Live as "Amerida", a vision of what America would be like after a Canadian invasion and takeover.
  • Sliders:
    • The second episode featured a Soviet-occupied USA.
    • Another episode showed a California that's part of Mexico, after the US lost the Mexican-American War. Somewhat unusually, the Mexican west is implied to be a prosperous and functional society, whose main flaw is their discrimination against illegal immigrants from Canada.
    • One episode features a world where the US lost the Revolution and never existed, so the country is all part of England.
    • Yet another episode briefly features a French-controlled USA. In this reality, Napoleon won over in Europe, never sold Louisiana to the US, and eventually conquered the rest of America.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise: Several episodes featured an alternate 1940s in which the Nazis, equipped with alien technology, were able to capture portions of the East Coast.

    Magazines 
  • Propaganda example: in 1916, Life magazine published this hypothetical division of America by the Central Powers (and also Japan for some reason). It features such delightful places as the "Gulf of Hate", the "Straits of Horror", and the cities of "New Berlin", "Gotterdammerungham", and "Nietzsche".
  • As the storm clouds gathered over Europe and the Far East, Pulp Magazine hero Secret Service Operator #5 (1934 - 1939) fought attempts by various foreign armies from South America, Europe and the Orient to conquer the United States. The events are completely over-the-top as befits the pulp genre, except for the time the Japs destroy an entire city (Philadelphia) with their evil atomic bomb. Only Orientals would do such a dastardly deed...

    Table-Top Games 
  • Axis & Allies is a World War II simulation. Invading the US is possible but pretty unlikely (it's usually easier for the Axis to get the two-capitals win condition by taking out Britain and the Soviet Union).
  • Deadlands: In 1877, the British invade from Canada and capture Detroit in retaliation for American military adventurism along the Canadian border.
  • Fortress America (1986), a Milton Bradley board game. The U.S. is invaded by three international coalitions: the Euro-Socialist Pact, the Central American Federation and the Asian Peoples Alliance. Hey, wait a minute... The box cover for the first edition of this game contains a portrait of none other than Saddam Hussein (changed for later editions). This edition of the game is now a collector's item. Also, there are some significant differences between Invasion: America and Fortress America; among other things, the former game covers the whole North American continent from the Arctic to the Panama Canal, done in typical hexagonal-map-and-paper-counter SPI/Avalon Hill, and the MB game covers only the continental United States and is done in the general style of Axis & Allies.
  • The Freedom City setting for Mutants & Masterminds includes the "Erde" setting where the Axis powers won World War II and used a combination of brain-powered war machines, nuclear weapons, and mystic cataclysms to shatter the backbone of the U.S. resistance. The Time of Crisis adventure involves the heroes helping La Résistance to neutralize the war machines in the process of fighting a cosmic threat.
  • Invasion America (1976) board wargame by SPI (Simulations Publications Inc.). The U.S. is invaded by three international coalitions: the European Socialist Coalition, the South American Union and the Pan Asiatic League. The popularity of this game spawned a companion piece the next year, Objective: Moscow, detailing invasions of the Soviet Union by various coalitions of the Western Allies and China from the 1970's to the end of the 20th Century.
  • The Price of Freedom RPG from West End Games, inspired by the film Red Dawn (1984). After the Soviets develop an orbital defense system that neutralizes America's strategic nuclear weapons, Soviet occupation forces enter and take over the U.S. The PCs are American freedom fighters who wage a guerrilla war against the invaders.
  • Shadowrun. After the U.S. was split up into the Divided States of America, Aztlan (formerly known as Mexico) invaded both the southern part of California Free State and the Confederated American States, though they were able to minimize the territorial losses. California was also briefly under the control of a rogue Japanese general.
  • SS Amerika by 3W Games presents an invasion of North America (like Invasion: America, covering the entire continent) by various Axis forces during the World War II era. This is, aside from Objective: Moscow, the largest and most detailed tabletop game of this particular subgenre (four full-sized standard wargame maps), with units at the division level including the entire U.S. Army and Marine Corps WWII order of battle, plus British Commonwealth, German, Italian and Japanese units, and even contingents from various Latin American nations which can come in on either the Allied or Axis side depending on various in-game events or scenario preconditions.
  • The World War II board game World in Flames has a variant where America is invaded by a victorious Germany called, appropriately, America in Flames.

    Video Games 
  • Battlefield series: The Armored Fury booster pack for Battlefield 2 depicted maps set in Alaska and Pennsylvania as US forces defended their homeland against Chinese and Middle Eastern Collation Forces. Bad Company 2 has several multiplayer maps set in Alaska, and the ending depicts Russian forces advancing on the northern border of the US. Averted in Battlefield 3, as the levels that take place in New York are about stopping a terrorist attack, not an invasion.
  • Call of Duty:
    • Modern Warfare: The second game in the series has several levels set in Northern Virgina and D.C. The invaders are not the actual Soviet Union, since the game takes place long after the end of the Cold War, but the Ultranationalist party which has taken over Russia in the game's timeline is a pretty effective substitute. The third game has them fighting in New York City as well, before finally being pushed off US soil after their defeat there. Appropriately, the first mission set in the invaded U.S. is called Wolverines!, and the achievement for beating it on Veteran is Red Dawn.
    • Call of Duty: Black Ops II plays with this— the US is invaded...by its own unmanned combat drones, which have been hacked to serve terrorist leader Raul Menendez's bidding. They manage to get boots on the ground as well, in the form of his mercenary army; LA is successfully laid waste to, and they make it as far as New York City and DC before Menendez self-destructs the drones to leave America defenceless.
    • This is also part of the plot for Call of Duty: Ghosts: The bad guys (in this case a league of hostile South American governments) have hijacked an American superweapon system that is turned on the US, devastating the country and leaving it ripe to a conventional invasion.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert Series:
    • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 has an ostensibly puppet Soviet government invade the United States with the aid of psychic powers to neutralize the American nuclear arsenal.
    • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 is more global, but both the Imperial and Soviet campaigns feature invasions of the United States at some point (the Japanese invade LA so the Emperor can broadcast propaganda to remove the U.S. from the war, the Soviets destroy the Statue of Liberty). Going after President Ackerman at Mt. Rushmore in the Allied campaign after he goes rogue may or may not count.
  • Command & Conquer: Generals: During one mission, the GLA send a strike force to attack the US west coast, partially to steal chemical weapons from an American base, and partially to trick the Americans into pulling their forces out of Europe on the basis of strengthening homeland defense.
  • Deus Ex: Never actually seen in-game, but background information, along with some side info that you may or may not run into mention the Russian-Mexican War, in which they attempted to take back territories captured in the Mexican-American War. By the time the game starts, southern Texas is under Mexican control.
  • EndWar: Battles can take place in the United States.
  • Took place in Fallout backstory just prior to the nuclear war, when the Chinese forces invaded Anchorage. It was eventually repulsed. The Fallout 3 Expansion Pack Operation Anchorage takes the player character through a VR simulation of the Anchorage Reclamation.
    • Descendants from a beached Chinese submarine crew can be found around what is left of San Francisco.
    • Ghoulified Chinese infiltrators can be found in a factory in Washington D.C. in 3.
    • Point Lookout has a wrecked Chinese spy submarine as part of one of its sidequests.
  • Eventual end result of the Soviets developing the atomic bomb first and dropping it on Berlin in the back story of Freedom Fighters (2003).
  • Homefront: The basic plot of the game is the United States under occupation by a resurgent North Korea.
    • Homefront: The Revolution: The US is occupied by a ultra neo-liberal North Korea, who in this timeline became the world's number one technological super power and high-end arms supplier, leading to most of the first-world depending on their technology and weaponry. After the US government is unable to pay a huge debt to the North Korean Government (who is controlled by the APEX Corporation), they decide to turn off the entire American military with a kill-switch and later occupying the nation under the pretext of giving aid to the American population and restoring order but secretly using them for slave labor to "cover the debt".
  • The New Order Last Days Of Europe: Mutually Assured Destruction normally keeps even the hateful nations of this timeline from actually trying this. Normally. If Goering succeeds during the German Civil War, however, he takes to the idea of Forever War (since the Reich's glory days were in war) and needs to implement one war plan after the other to keep himself from being couped by militarists even more insane than he is... and near the end of his options, he can implement Fall Rockwell, which is a massive naval invasion of the USA. Unsurprisingly, this ends either one of two ways: With the Germanic fleet carpeting the Pacific seafloor in steel and corpses, or in thermonuclear war and the end of the world.
  • Rise of Nations: In the Cold War campaign, besides starting a nuclear war with them, the Soviets can also stage a conventional invasion of the United States.
  • The basis of Roadwar 2000 from 1986, but first the invaders released A Bioengineered Plague.
  • Shattered Union: The European Union sends peacekeeping forces to the Washington DC area to secure international interests, whereas the Russian Federation invades and annexes Alaska during the Second American Civil War.
  • One trailer for Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor depicts an American invasion of Manhattan in 2080. The opposing force is implied to be related to the United Nations in some way.
  • Turning Point: Fall of Liberty: Set in an alternate 1950s in which the US stayed neutral in World War II and in which Churchill was killed in an accident prior to the war, causing Britain to fall to Germany, which in effect discourages the United States from ever entering the war, solidifying their stance as a neutral country. Eventually, however, the Nazis invade anyways.
  • In Wolfenstein: The New Order, the United States is mentioned as having surrendered to the Nazis. The sequel Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is focused on liberating America from the Nazis.
  • World in Conflict: Set during an alternate 1980s, in which the USSR launched an invasion of the US instead of collapsing as in Real Life. The main battles of the war are occurring in Western Europe and the invasion force that lands in Seattle is just there to keep the USA from reinforcing its NATO allies. The backstory also explains that the Soviets previously attempted to invade New York, but the assault was repulsed. No one expected an attack from the other direction.

    Web Original 
  • In the Alternate History story The Falcon Cannot Hear, the turning point in the Second American Civil War comes when Japan invades the West Coast (controlled by the democratically socialist Provisional Government, or "Blue", faction). They do this in the belief that this will provide relief towards Japan's nominal ally, the fascist "White" faction, and also attract the support of the remaining warlords of the collapsed military junta (or "Khaki") faction. It all backfires horribly, as all the American factions are pissed at the violation of their sovereignty; the Whites face massive political instability due to their government's supposed allegiance with the invaders, while all the other factions band together to both repel the Japanese and defeat the Whites (who they blame for the invasion). It also inspires Canada to declare itself Neutral No Longer, and join The Alliance.

    Real Life 

Recorded invasions

To date, there have been four attempted invasions of the United States. None of them were particularly successful, and very few of them were serious attempts at actually taking over U.S. territory. Turns out the U.S. is a big place, and you'd probably run out of time and resources before you take over the entire damn place.
  • The first and probably most successful was executed by the Royal Marines of the United Kingdom during the War of 1812. Well, kind of — the British were busy dealing with The Napoleonic Wars at the time, and the Americans had already invaded and attempted to annex British Canada (in retaliation in part for the British forcibly conscripting American sailors into the Royal Navy), culminating in the razing of the city of York — which we now know as Toronto. The British-Canadians responded with a series of raids along the border, an attempted takeover of New Orleans, and an incursion into Washington, D.C. where they burned down every government building except the Patent Office. And in the end, the result was a maintenance of the status quo. While the British were certainly sore about losing the American Revolution, Napoleon was the bigger issue; their only realistic territorial ambition was to establish a buffer state between Canada and the U.S., nominally run by the Native Americans.
  • The second was by the secessionist Confederate States of America, who had made a few incursions into states that hadn't seceded like Maryland (stopped at Antietam in 1862) and Pennsylvania (stopped at Gettysburg in 1863). General Robert E. Lee wasn't doing this to annex these regions to the Confederacy; rather, he figured that he needed a decisive victory in Union territory to convince them to sue for peace and recognize the Confederacy as independent. And he needed it quickly, before the Northern war machine could warm up and expose the South's weaknesses, which included a pretty useless federal government and a chronic food supply problem.note  All this said, it barely counts as an "invasion" since it was a civil war, and some Southerners claim (with varying degrees of seriousness) that they were the ones who were invaded and that they live in occupied territory to this day.
  • The third and least significant was during The Mexican Revolution, when Pancho Villa led a raid on the border town of Columbus, New Mexico. Despite the longstanding desire in certain circles to reconquer former Mexican territory, this is the only time anyone actually tried it. And it wasn't a serious reconquista; it was basically a glorified supply run for Villa's shoestring army. The reason for the border incursion was to try to provoke a U.S. invasion of Mexico, which would give Villa a chance to organize a popular resistance against the leader Venustiano Carranza. Villa figured Carranza would either lose to the invaders or capitulate altogether (he was already accepting aid and arms shipments from the U.S.), and he would raise his own popular resistance army to beat the gringos and overthrow Carranza. The Americans did invade, but Carranza Took a Third Option and actually did reasonably well in fending them off — well enough to bolster his popular support.
  • The last time anyone tried to invade U.S. territory was when Imperial Japan seized some of the Aleutian Islands in Alaska during World War II.note  It was actually designed as a distraction, drawing away the U.S. Navy while the Japanese could go for their real objective — the U.S. Naval base at Midway. And even then, the plan wasn't to capture the base but to lure American aircraft carriers into a trap where they could be sunk. Admiral Yamamoto pointed out that luring the carriers to the Aleutians meant they wouldn't be around at Midway to spring the trap, but he was overruled by the higher-ups. In any event, U.S. intelligence had cracked the Imperial Navy's ciphers and knew exactly what the plan was, so they allowed the Japanese to take a couple of islands and then reversed the trap on them at Midway, in what turned out to be a particularly decisive naval battle.

Projected invasions:

In a number of cases, a foreign power toyed with the idea of invading the U.S., but never went through with it because they realized it was pretty much impossible, or they lost before they could find out the hard way.

  • In 1917, the German Foreign Office unilaterally offered Venustiano Carranza (yes, that guy again) aid to invade the U.S. with the promise that Mexico would take back the land that was taken in 1848 after the Mexican-American War. Carranza refused mostly because he was dealing with The Mexican Revolution, and Pancho Villa or Emiliano Zapata would likely use the opportunity of an invasion of the U.S. to overthrow him. He also knew he was very likely to lose; the U.S. badly outgunned Mexico as it stood, and it would be even worse if they got to warm up their war machine — so bad, in fact, that there would be no way Germany (or any European power) could actually get their aid to Mexico and make good on their promise. In other words, the only entity with the resources to help Mexico invade the United States was... the United States. In any event, the German Foreign Office did this without the approval of the Reichstag or the OHL (both of whom thought it was a colossally stupid idea) and sent their instructions to the German embassy in Mexico through the trans-Atlantic telegraph line — which was owned, and all of its traffic monitored, by the British. And it backfired horribly on the Germans, as the "Zimmermann telegram" (as it became known) was leaked to the Americans, who were so pissed off that it was a big reason they joined World War I to fight against the Germans — which was exactly what the "invasion" was designed to avoid.
  • Nazi Germany probably planned to invade the U.S. in the medium-to-long-term. They were more focused on conquering Europe and particularly the Soviet Union. They figured they needed Soviet land and resources (and had to replace the local population with ethnic Germans) before they could even gain the requisite superiority over the U.S., which wouldn't have happened even by their optimistic timeline until around the 1970s. But they were almost certainly thinking about it, given what we know about their ideology and rhetoric, including what we know about their private beliefs — Hitler wanted to Take Over the World, and "the world" includes the United States. One can also note the inordinate attention given to acquiring military bases in West Africa and Central and South America even before the invasion of the Soviet Union. However, the sparse details we have suggest little planning was done for such an invasion, it envisioned more of a naval-air campaign that would have blockaded the U.S. and forced them to capitulate, and it likely would have involved establishing a puppet regime in the U.S. rather than direct administration from Germany.
    • On a slightly downplayed note, one aspect that Hitler was interested in as early as 1937 was having the ability to bomb America from Europe, which gave birth to the "Amerikabomber" project, essentially a contract to submit designs for intercontinental bombers, with which Nazi Germany could conduct large-scale raids on the American mainland from Europe, most specifically New York, which Hitler apparently held a fascination of imagining the city in flames, and Goering himself expressed a desire for such bombers, so that he could "at last stuff the mouth of arrogance across the sea." The trope gets played more straight in the sense that several of the bomber designs submitted were also designed to carry cargo and paratroopers, ostensibly to carry out Fallshirmjager raids on the Americans as well, but long-term occupation was still off the table. Eventually, however, as the war wore on and fortunes turned against Germany, the "Amerikabomber" project, along with most of Germany's other fantastic pipe dreams, was permanently shelved.
  • The Soviet Union mostly discounted any significant invasion of the U.S. during the Cold War, but they did have plans for less ambitious operations like airstrikes, missile strikes (conventional or nuclear), special forces raids, and naval attacks. Most American analysts believed if they did come, they'd go through Alaska across the Bering Sea (a 1987 Department of Defense plan suggested they might do this to draw U.S. forces away from Japan and the rest of Asia, allowing the Soviets to invade there instead). The closest the Soviets came was a scheme of Joseph Stalin's that he concocted in 1948 during the First Berlin Crisis, where if it came to war with the U.S. they would invade Alaska — and he established a special military formation, the 14th Assault Army, to carry out the plan should the order be given. The plan was trashed and the army disbanded after Stalin's death in 1953. Overall, the Soviets' focus for invasion was on that of Western Europe for the immediate future, as it was a much more attainable objective, and both the Soviets and the Americans knew that losing all of mainland Europe would be a more severe blow to America's global influence than an attempted invasion of the mainland would.
  • In some cases, a plan is discovered for invasion of the United States as part of a country's secret plan to invade every country in the world, just in case they absolutely have to. For instance, the German General Staff's hypothetical plan for an invasion of the U.S. eastern seaboard inspired the novel 1901 (listed under "Literature"). Even Canada had a plan for an invasion of the U.S., a 1921 strategy called Defense Scheme No. 1. And that plan involved a surprise attack at strategic points along the border, then leaving, destroying bridges and roads behind them, and waiting for British reinforcements (which, according to the British secret plans, were never going to come because the British believed that Canada would be impossible to defend in a hypothetical war with the U.S. and would have to be let go). And yes, the Americans were particularly paranoid and had their own academic plan to invade Canada called War Plan Red.

Current situation:

So you want to invade the United States to establish your glorious new empire. Well, you'll have to accept that it's probably not going to happen, for a number of reasons:
  • First, reaching the mainland United States alone would be a brutal chore for any army. America has the benefit of being isolated from many of its rivals because of the vastness of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. The logistics of supplying and funding an army across two major oceans would be excruciating, even for the other major powers like China and Russia. Even if you could assemble such a massive supply chain, you would still have to get past the massive U.S. Navy, which could wage a war of attrition against the resources you brought to bear.
    Otto Von Bismarck: The Americans are a very lucky people. They're bordered to the north and south by weak neighbors, and to the east and west by fish
  • Second, the U.S. itself is really freaking big. Your army will be stretched pretty thin, especially when you consider that it's got a lot of coastline from which it can mount a naval defense. And it's got a wide variety of pretty unforgiving natural interior lines as well, from impassable mountain ranges to vast empty plains. The weather can range from unbearably hot in the southwest to bitterly cold in the north. It's slightly more forgiving than invading Russia — slightly. And we all know what happened to the people who tried that. Nobody's got the resources to take over a country that big and hold it for any appreciable length of time.
  • Third, the U.S. has an incredible war capability. It's got the world's second largest military, with 1.5 million active personnel, and the world's biggest air force and navy (pretty important when most potential invaders are overseas). It also spends more money on its military than most of the rest of the planet combinednote . And the last time anyone attacked U.S. territory, in World War II, the Americans shifted their entire economy to the war effort and made a machine that could fight in two fronts at once. Imperial Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto predicted that the Japanese, after launching a sneak attack, would have the upper hand for only six months before the American war machine got so big as to turn the tide, and wouldn't you know it — Pearl Harbor, December 1941, Battle of Midway, June 1942.
  • Fourth, the U.S. has a lot of friends. Well, it might be a bit of an uneven friendship in some cases, but it's there. The obvious sign of it is NATO, which gives it a whole host of "friends" with whom it can share resources. It's also got a habit of installing military bases in foreign countries all over the world — Japan, Korea, Germany, the UAE — which would allow it to stop your invasion before you even get to U.S. territory. And the U.S. is also an economic powerhouse and a very big market, meaning they'll buy your exports if you do a good enough job and give you money you can rely on if you're a smaller, poorer country. So, if you're a country big enough to even try to mount an invasion of the U.S. — China, Russia, India — you'd piss off so many people that you're hardly going to have any friends to help you out.
  • Fifth, as awkward as it is to mention given the nature of American Gun Politics, the civilians are armed to the teeth. The civilian police force counts over 800,000 law enforcement personnel at the federal, state, and local level — that alone would be the sixth largest army in the world. Many of them are even given paramilitary training — controversial when their job is to be police, very handy when you're facing an invasion. Those guys also have much better local knowledge of their own jurisdictions than any foreign invader. Add to that all the armed non-police people — while some of them are Gun Nuts who fantasize about just this scenario so they could play the hero, they'll be able to convince quite a few people to join them if an invasion actually happens. And there are more than 400 million firearms owned by American civilians — that's more guns than people. Even if you get boots on the ground in U.S. territory, you're going to have to fight for every inch of space in a vast country. As Admiral Yamamoto famously said:
    You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind each blade of grass.
Wait, it's unclear whether he actually said that. But he makes a good point. How about something he's confirmed to have said?
Should hostilities once break out between Japan and the United States, it is not enough that we take Guam and the Philippines, nor even Hawaii and San Francisco. We would have to march into Washington and sign the treaty in the White House. I wonder if our politicians (who speak so lightly of a Japanese-American war) have confidence as to the outcome and are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices?
Wait again, this one was historically Quote Mined by isolating the first sentence or two to make it look like he's advocating for an invasion. Well, maybe we can hear someone else give his opinion? How about Abraham Lincoln, describing the situation right before the American Civil War?
From whence shall we expect the approach of danger? Shall some trans-Atlantic military giant step the earth and crush us at a blow? Never. All the armies of Europe and Asia, with a Napoleon at their head, could not by force take a drink from the Ohio River or make a track on the Blue Ridge in the trial of a thousand years. No, if destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men we will live forever or die by suicide.
Damn.
Well, there you have it. That's why everybody thinks they'll never successfully invade the U.S.


 
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C&C: Red Alert 2

The intro sequence in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 shows the Soviet Union launching a surprise invasion of the United States.

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