22. Humor

It is possible to misinterpret a genuine threat as a joke, or interpret a joke as a genuine threat. Reagan once joked to technicians, prior to a televised speech, “My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” This comment was never broadcast, but it did leak later. If it were leaked early or accidentally taken seriously, who knows what kind of mayhem it may have caused. At the very least, it would have heightened tensions. Similarly, senator John McCain “jokingly” sung the tune, “Bomb, Bomb Iran,” in response to an audience question at a campaign stop during the 2008 Presidential elections.