James Blunt Did Not Start World War III

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When most people think of the pop singer James Blunt, they think of a quavering tenor voice bidding them adieu, or informing them that they're remarkably attractive. Maybe a subset of these people think of Michael Scott nursing a broken heart. Probably an even smaller number of people remember that Blunt served in the British Armed Forces from 1996 to 2002, during which time he helped take Pristina, the Kosovar capital, and later captained the Household Cavalry Alpine Ski Team.

Well! James Blunt is not about to let you forget that. In a recent interview with the BBC, Blunt recounted the story of how he essentially saved the world in 1999, when he and his cavalry unit abstained from seizing an airfield in Pristina. If the British troops had tried to take the field, it would have brought them into a confrontation with Russian forces. U.S. General Wesley Clark told Blunt's unit to go ahead and attack anyway, but the British General Mike Jackson told the men to stand down, saying, "I'm not going to have my soldiers be responsible for starting World War III."

Blunt claims he would have defied the order even without Jackson's support, risking court martial for the sake of not provoking a catastrophic international incident. Does that make him a "superstar," or someone with "no bravery"? Maybe he was just "high"? Did the Wire just imply that a member of the Queen's army was a coward and a drug user for the sake of a lame song-title pun? We're pretty sure we just did.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.