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11 Aug, 2009 06:47

“We begin bombing Russia in five minutes” – anniversary of Cold War era joke

During World War II there was a saying that “loose lips sink ships”. Twenty five years ago, the loose lips of an American President caused quite a stir in the Kremlin.

"My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia. We begin bombing in five minutes," said President Reagan on August 11, 1984.

President Reagan's offhand remark was made during a sound check for his weekly radio address.
Actually, it was kind of a parody for the opening line of that day's speech which read: “My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you that today I signed legislation that will allow student religious groups to begin enjoying a right they've too long been denied – the freedom to meet in public high schools during non-school hours, just as other student groups are allowed to do.”

The joke, when leaked to the general public, backfired, putting the Soviet Army on high alert.