British singer James Blunt has said that his refusal to obey an order from a US General helped avoid a potential World War III.
Blunt, a former captain in a senior regiment of the British Army, said in an interview that he risked a court martial by countermanding an order to attack the Russian forces in Pristina Airfield in Kosovo in June 1999, during the Balkan conflict.
The ‘You’re Beautiful’ singer, then 25, said General Wesley Clark wanted him to ‘destroy’ the Russians who had by then seized the airport.
“I was given the direct command to overpower the 200 or so Russians who were there. 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,” News.com.au quoted Blunt as telling the BBC Radio.
“The direct command [that] came in from General Wesley Clark was to overpower them. Various words were used that seemed unusual to us. Words such as ‘destroy’ came down the radio,” he added.
“We had 200 Russians lined up pointing their weapons at us aggressively … and we’d been told to reach the airfield and take ahold of it. That’s why we were querying our instruction,” Blunt said.
He said his decision to refuse the instruction from General Clark was backed by Britain”s General Mike Jackson.
“Fortunately, up on the radio came [commander of the British forces] General Mike Jackson, whose exact words at the time were, ‘I’m not going to have my soldiers be responsible for starting World War III. He told us, why don’t we 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?’” he added
The singer said that even if General Jackson had not intervened, he would have refused to carry out the order from General Clark.