How Did James Blunt Help Prevent World War 3?

By James Mills, Associate Partner & Mentorship Coach, Lighthouse International

I'm imaging that you may be reading this article out of curiosity and intrigue; wondering how a pop singer helped prevent conflict taking place on a global scale. However, it was not in his singing career that he achieved this feat. Instead it was during his time in the army before he embarked on a path to pop-stardom.

When James Blunt was an army captain serving in Kosovo in 1999, he found himself with a moral dilemma. He had received an order from the Supreme Allied Commander of Nato forces in Europe, General Wesley Clark. As recounted in a BBC radio interview back in 2010, Mr Blunt strongly disagreed with this high -ranked General as shown in the quote below.

"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.

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. We had 200 Russians lined up pointing their weapons at us aggressively ... and we'd been told to reach the airfield and take a hold of it. That's why we were querying our instruction."

James Blunt did not want to follow this order and would risk court martial for disobeying it, but he was not the only person uncomfortable with the order as he went to recall...

"Fortunately, up on the radio came General Sir Mike Jackson [commander of the British forces], whose words were, 'I'm not going to have my soldiers start World War Three.' 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?'"

As the Independent newspaper wrote:

Blunt told John Pienaar, on Radio 5 Live's Pienaar's Politics, that even without General Jackson's intervention he would have refused to carry out that order given by Wesley Clark, who was at that time the Supreme Allied Commander of Nato forces in Europe.

What this experience shows us, is that it takes courage to trust our conscience when it comes to receiving orders or requests from others-especially from those in authority. Although it is rare we face a situation that could have global consequences, there are many everyday situations that test our ability to listen to our conscience, and do the right thing; especially when we feel under pressure. If we do not question ourselves as to whether what we are doing is in line with our values, and the person we want to be, then we risk doing things that compromise our character and integrity.

For more on James Blunt's experience and the impact serving in the Balkans had on him in the Independent here...

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