A Sober Reminder

At a time when top US politicians, including the President, are yet again engaged in warmongering, it may pay American citizens to once more heed the story of James Blount.

The story’s not new. The BBC report quoted below is from 2010, but it is, perhaps, worth repeating. Blount is better known today as the singer and musician, James Blunt, but in 1999 he was a cavalry officer with the British army in Kosovo.


The Supreme Commander of NATO in the Balkans at that time was US General Wesley Clark. Clark ordered Blount and his unit to take the airfield at Pristina, which had been occupied by Russian troops.

The Russians were on the same side as the NATO forces, but wished to operate independently. NATO refused.

According to the BBC:

The confusion surrounding the taking of Pristina airfield in 1999 has been written about in political memoirs, and was widely reported at the time.

But this is the first time Blunt has given an account of his role in the incident.

Blunt, who was at the head of a column of 30,000 Nato troops with his unit, told Pienaar’s Politics it was a “mad situation”.

He said he had been “party to the conversation” between senior officers in which Gen Clark had ordered the attack.

“We had 200 Russians lined up pointing their weapons at us aggressively, which was… and you know we’d been told to reach the airfield and take a hold of it.

“And if we had a foothold there then it would make life much easier for the Nato forces in Pristina. So there was a political reason to take hold of this.

“And the practical consequences of that political reason would be then aggression against the Russians.”

Asked if following the order would have risked starting World War III, Blunt, who was a 25-year-old cavalry officer at the time, replied: “Absolutely. And that’s why we were querying our instruction from an American general.

“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.

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.

He said: “There are things that you do along the way that you know are right, and those that you absolutely feel are wrong, that I think it’s morally important to stand up against, and that sense of moral judgement is drilled into us as soldiers in the British army.”[1]

Obviously it’s not drilled into high-ranking US Generals.

It really is time Americans realized that the arrogance of their leaders not only puts the lives of American citizens at risk, but is sufficiently foolhardy to trigger conflagrations vastly greater than anything originally intended.

Who can know where US military action in Syria would end? Certainly not President Obama, John Kerry, or the generals charged with commanding any military intervention.

In 1999, Wesley Clark could easily have plunged the world into a nuclear conflict by acting out of arrogance and a total lack of mature leadership. He was fortunate that others subordinate to him were prepared to disobey his orders, which could have resulted in court martial proceedings for both Blount and Jackson.[2]

Russia and America are again at loggerheads. The Russians demand time to assess whether Assad’s regime was indeed guilty of the illegal use of chemical weapons. The American have already made up their minds and, once again, are prepared to go off ‘half-cock’ with no concrete evidence of Assad’s involvement.

The world is right to be wary. US warmongers are convinced they’d win any nuclear world war. They may be right.

But at what cost?

[1] “Singer James Blunt ‘prevented World War III'” BBC, November 14th 2010

[2] “Wesley Clark#Kosovo War” Wikipedia

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