In Weird Headlines: British Pop Star James Blunt Refused Wesley Clark's Orders to Attack Russian Troops in Kosovo
To most people, James Blunt is the guy who sang “You're Beautiful,” that 2005 ballad that topped the Billboard Charts, earned three Grammy nominations and clocked television time everywhere from “Oprah” to “Grey's Anatomy.” But to General Wesley Clark, former presidential hopeful-turned-lobbyist, James Blunt is the person who bucked his command in Kosovo.
Blunt was a lead British soldier serving in the Kosovo war when he was directed to take over the Pristina Airport––but Russian troops had already seized it. In an interview with the BBC, he said that he was subsequently ordered by Clark to attack them:
"I was the lead officer with my troop of men behind us...
"The soldiers directly behind me were from the Parachute Regiment, so they're obviously game for the fight.
"The direct command [that] came in from Gen Wesley Clark was to overpower them. Various words were used that seemed unusual to us. Words such as 'destroy' came down the radio."
Blunt refused, however––risking a US court marshal––in part because there were “200 Russians lined up pointing their weapons at us aggressively,” and in part because he felt the actions would have been morally wrong. He was backed up by British General Sir Mike Jackson, who thought such an action would be the precursor to something much, much worse:
Fortunately, up on the radio came Gen Mike Jackson, whose exact words at the time were, 'I'm not going to have my soldiers be responsible for starting World War III', and told us why don't we sugar off down the road, you know, encircle the airfield instead.
"And after a couple of days the Russians there said: 'Hang on we have no food and no water. Can we share the airfield with you?'."
If Gen Jackson had not blocked the order from Gen Clark, who as Nato Supreme Commander Europe was his superior officer, Blunt said he would still have declined to follow it, even at the risk of a court martial.
Read and listen to the full interview, along with comments from Gen. Jackson, at the BBC.