James Blunt prevented World War III
November 15, 2010 8:26 PM   Subscribe

While in Kosovo, singer James Blunt refused an order to attack Russian troops, "preventing World War III."
posted by kchiou (61 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Still doesn't make up for "You're Beautiful."
posted by Rangeboy at 8:27 PM on November 15, 2010 [90 favorites]


Feh, Donny Osmond once repelled an invasion from Mars without any help from his large network of family and fans, let alone the backing of a general and knight of the realm.
posted by Abiezer at 8:29 PM on November 15, 2010 [10 favorites]


Feh, David Bowie once nearly invaded Earth with the Spiders From Mars if it wasn't for those meddling Osmonds.
posted by The Whelk at 8:31 PM on November 15, 2010 [34 favorites]


Shouldn't that be "further delaying WWIII?" I mean, it's only a matter of time.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:31 PM on November 15, 2010 [26 favorites]


Blunt Boy Found In Cave!
posted by sanko at 8:33 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm comfortable with a soldier becoming a popular singer. And with a US general being an ass.
This comment was grar-regulated by the Metafilter Cybernetic Intravenous Sedative Administrator.
posted by joost de vries at 8:36 PM on November 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think it would be worth starting World War III if it involved James Blunt meeting a sticky end.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:36 PM on November 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


Here, dunkadunc, sit down and let me strap this to your arm. You'll feel much better and be able to look at pictures of James Blunt, or anything really, with equanimity.
posted by joost de vries at 8:42 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm impressed. He got an order to attack from a command not on the scene, and he was willing, with intelligence on the scene, to stand up and refuse that order.

For which -- he was commended by his direct CO for doing the right thing by ignoring his orders. Yes, GEN Clark (US) as in charge of the operation, but LTG Jackson (BA) agreed with his point officers -- which included Blunt -- that this was the wrong move, and he backed his officer.

Salutes to both of them. It's hard to make the unpopular call when you're on the sharp end of the stick, and it's hard to *support* that call when you're in the middle of the stick.
posted by eriko at 8:45 PM on November 15, 2010 [43 favorites]


Oh please. Sure, the geopolitical situation around Kosovo was pretty charged, but this would not have caused World War III by any stretch of the imagination. NATO would have covered it up as a friendly fire incident and the Russians would have accepted that explanation to save face.
posted by nasreddin at 8:45 PM on November 15, 2010 [8 favorites]


It sounds like Blunt did the right thing and deserves kudos, but really, WWIII? Over an airfield in Kosovo, in 1999? Was that really a likely outcome? I can see the Russians getting very, very angry if Blunt had followed the orders (and rightly so!) but it hardly seems like it would have been arm-the-nukes material.

Or am I just looking back on the post-Cold War, pre-Bush golden age with too much nostalgia?
posted by No-sword at 8:47 PM on November 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


I agree eriko. Soldiers that question their commands when necessary. Maybe we should have more of those.
posted by joost de vries at 8:47 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


But was he rescued by porpoises?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:58 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


It wouldn't have been the first time a World War was started by some damned foolish thing in the Balkans
posted by psp200 at 8:59 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ah, I think that spicynuts' grar-regulator needs to calibrated. The insurance doesn't allow recreational dosage.
posted by joost de vries at 9:00 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]




Oh, and nasreddin, I admire your powers of hindsight.
If only you had been in the battle field with them. You could have been a popular singer by now.
posted by joost de vries at 9:01 PM on November 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


It should be noted that US forces bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade (which was supporting the Serbs with transmission equipment) and it did not precipitate a World War.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:03 PM on November 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


this FPP is misleading. Blunt didn't actually say that he prevented WWIII, British Gen Sir Mike Jackson did.
posted by wayofthedodo at 9:04 PM on November 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


that's disappointment, by the way
posted by wayofthedodo at 9:10 PM on November 15, 2010


"It is no small matter for a soldier who falls under a military command structure and a military penal code to refuse an order because of its perceived illegality....If a soldier does speak out, it is up to him to prove his case in an intimidating court-marshal that is likely to ruin his career."
posted by clavdivs at 9:13 PM on November 15, 2010


Can I at least hold on to the idea that Blunt has been more successful as a bringer of peace and happiness than Bono? Because, y'know, that would make me happy.

rock stars should make rock music. actors should act. listening to either of them explain how to make the world a better place is painful. I mean, seriously, should we really be taking advice from Perry Farrell just because he's famous?
posted by Ghidorah at 9:14 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]




I read somewhere that Daniel Powter has a more valid claim to have forestalled global cataclysm. It's worth investigating.
posted by blucevalo at 9:18 PM on November 15, 2010


Shouldn't that be "further delaying WWIII?" I mean, it's only a matter of time.

You might think so, but thanks to Lt. Blunt's decisive action, we're skipping right over WWIII and straight on to WWIV, which should be starting...NOW.

(entire Internet EXPLODES)
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:21 PM on November 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


"well.... We have Pat Boone"
posted by clavdivs at 9:24 PM on November 15, 2010


Clearly, Blunt hasn't heard of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. And now he has told it all.
posted by vidur at 9:27 PM on November 15, 2010


damn that clip is illuminating, clavdivs. For one that the VP would have been sent to deal with that situation, and that Nixon would stand there shaking hands with Kruschev, simply making the deal that both parties be forthright and allow their nations to see/read what each had to say.

And today if Obama says he'll sit down with anyone the media goes nuts.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:46 PM on November 15, 2010


I applaud Blunt for doing the right thing in a tough situation. I disapplaud General Jackson for suggesting that that particular decision "prevented World War III." Maybe this is just my bias as the niece of a colonel, but I thought a strong sense of perspective was one of the things that generals were supposed to have?

As for "You're Beautiful", it brought us one of the greatest Weird Al Yankovic song parodies ever, so we can all remember that.

Also, none of us would be here without Hedy Lamarr and George Antheil, so. Or at least none of us who are on wi-fi.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:50 PM on November 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


[Minimization of thing famous person did that actually mattered in the larger scheme of things] because [snark about thing famous person did to become famous]

I'm trying to be more efficient in my commenting
posted by davejay at 10:24 PM on November 15, 2010 [13 favorites]


Be sure to check out his Top Gear interview. The guy seems like a genuinely awesome person and is pretty self-aware of his music.
posted by spiderskull at 11:08 PM on November 15, 2010 [8 favorites]


hey navelgazer right there with you. because someone needs to north korea sit down at talk about the future.
posted by clavdivs at 11:09 PM on November 15, 2010


Wait - what did he actually do? What an appallingly bad article. BLUNT DENIES ORDER, SAVES WORLD! > Blunt Claims He Was Party To Conversation About Order > Turns out Blunt didn't actually have to disobey anything > Blunt so totally would've told that General where to go, no honestly he would, no come on, I'll take all of you on, wait one at a time...
posted by obiwanwasabi at 11:36 PM on November 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


"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' [...] If Gen Jackson had not blocked the order from Gen Clark [...] Blunt said he would still have declined to follow it"

We're not given a timeline in the linked article, but from the last few paragraphs it sounds more like Blunt queried the order, but Jackson overrode it.

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

From this it sounds like this was a single conversation in which Clark says "Take the airport", Blunt says "Sir?" and Jackson says "Don't be silly, Wes, let's try something else". So it's not clear how much effect Blunt actually had on this situation at all. (Although all praise to the counterfactual Blunt who lives in the parallel world in which Jackson lost that argument).
posted by logopetria at 11:46 PM on November 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


{shhhcczwuvvvv-hmnhmnhmn}

i shall die with at least half my wits.
hmhnhmhnhmhn
posted by clavdivs at 11:48 PM on November 15, 2010


{zahszzzzzzweett}
i shall not die but remain amused
posted by clavdivs at 11:50 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was at a James Blunt show once (I know...) and my girlfriend at the time was given a backstage pass. She asked for another since she was with me, and I guess security figured she'd be bringing another pretty female friend. Little did they know...

So we go to this room that's full of parents and their kids and were kind of disappointed. What type of backstage is this! Then an important looking woman comes in and asks to see all our passes. A bunch of us are told we are in the wrong place and are ushered out by security. We are now thinking that we are not going to get backstage at all! That security guard was clearly just using these extra passes to try to get with some of the girls.

After walking through some of the corridors of the arena the show was held it, we're brought to this door and the important woman disappears. She comes back and tells us all to go in. The door opens, and purple and green coloured pot-scented smoke billows out with Snoop Dogg's "Say My Name" playing with the bass pumping. We all walk in and there's James Blunt's band all hanging out and drinking. There are fridges (plural) full of free drinks. Mr. Blunt was off with the meet and greet but would be here soon. He was actually super nice, but clearly a bit tired from the touring and constant attention/borderline sexual harassment from female fans. His band were super cool though.

As to him being self-aware: I didn't get a chance to talk to him about it, but his band at the time all really liked Iron Maiden. They liked their own music too, but they really "wished they could rock and roll".
posted by battlebison at 11:52 PM on November 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


I remember when this happened, it was fairly big news at the time. Gen Jackson's quote "I'm not going to have my soldiers be responsible for starting World War III." was quite widely reported. I don't think anyone really thought it would go straight into World War III though, but it was a pretty serious situation and those are the words Jackson used to make his point.

To be fair to Blunt, he's not saying he stopped World War III, he's saying he was involved in an fairly famous incident in which Gen Jackson used those words, and then the press are picking it up and turning the headline into 'Blunt Stopped World War III' because its a funny headline that gets people talking.
posted by memebake at 11:54 PM on November 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


Yes, everyone who is too cool to like this popular singer: it's true, nothing he did nor could have done nor would have done has any importance, and he's still completely bullshit and a waste of space because you're way too cool to like this dude.

Besides, [snarky internet reference that is irrelevant, but funny, if you care more about the internet than people's lives and war casualties]. And we all know the real details here, which totally negate any suggestion that he might have done something requiring courage, backbone, or (god forbid) ethics sometime in the past. Because we're internet doodz.

Still, James Blunt was more brave than me:more blond than you.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:06 AM on November 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


he did his moral duty and seems to kinda hip.
im confused
posted by clavdivs at 12:17 AM on November 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've single-handedly avoided impregnating hundreds of thousands of women.
posted by srboisvert at 12:46 AM on November 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


The door opens, and purple and green coloured pot-scented smoke billows out with Snoop Dogg's "Say My Name" playing with the bass pumping.

Blunt by name, Blunt by intoxication preference...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:56 AM on November 16, 2010


There must have been an angel / with a smile on her face / when JamesBluntpreventedWorldWar3! / (chorus)
posted by banishedimmortal at 1:07 AM on November 16, 2010


Here is James Blunt being awesome on Sesame Street

The sheep was brilliant, the sheep was pure, I saw three ankles, of that I'm sure..

With lyrics like that, of course he stopped WWIII. The Russians heard one line, said "Nyet, not dealing with this, have fought enough crazy men this day", packed, and went home.
posted by Ahab at 1:09 AM on November 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Jackson isn't known for his proportion. He was the officer on the ground in Derry on Bloody Sunday when 13 were shot and killed without provocation.
posted by vbfg at 1:40 AM on November 16, 2010


Come on, anyone who can publicly admit to geometricphilia in a children's show is way way fine by me, Serbs, Russians or silly generals be damned.
posted by Iosephus at 2:24 AM on November 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought a strong sense of perspective was one of the things that generals were supposed to have?

Sitting Bull would disagree.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 4:08 AM on November 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


His music isn't particularly my thing, but James Blunt has been on a couple of BBC panel shows lately (Have I Got News For You and Never Mind the Buzzcocks) and more than held his own against the regular and guest comedians present. He's a funny guy. Shades of Josh Groban, who also stole the show on Buzzcocks.

As for being self-aware about his music, it can't be too hard to laugh off a joke when you know you made the top-selling album in the UK of the decade.
posted by rory at 4:13 AM on November 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


I doubt it would actually have started WWIII.
posted by delmoi at 4:28 AM on November 16, 2010


vbfg: "Jackson isn't known for his proportion. He was the officer on the ground in Derry on Bloody Sunday when 13 were shot and killed without provocation."

Small point of order - he was an officer on the ground, rather than the officer, specifically he was Adjutant to 1 PARA and was a Captain at the time. Captains aren't terribly high on the officer totem pole in situations like that and he wasn't directly commanding a ground unit (as a 2nd Lt or Lt would be).

Regarding the FPP, I've heard this incident described before and, while I think 'starting World War III' is a tiny bit of hyperbole, it's still a brave move to refuse a command, especially from SACEUR. Things could have gotten extremely heated if the British forces involved had tried to attack or disarm the Russians. Maybe not arm-the-nukes hot, but certainly expulsion-of-ambassadors hot. Bear in mind that Russia in 1999 was a fairly tense place, dealing with the aftermath of a currency crisis and about to make its first peaceful transfer of government since the end of the Soviet era. To say the guys on the ground were probably a bit twitchy would be a fair understatement. Most of them would probably have served in Chechnya, and it's more than likely that their pay for the previous few years would have been distinctly patchy. They were probably in the mood for a fight.
posted by Happy Dave at 4:38 AM on November 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Would Josh Groban have had such courage? I think not.
posted by Saxon Kane at 5:37 AM on November 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Be sure to check out his Top Gear interview . The guy seems like a genuinely awesome person and is pretty self-aware of his music.

Really: Before passing judgement on him, go watch that interview. It's actually a great interview, and he seems like a genuinely nice guy. I was Pleasantly Surprised, even though his music was....overplayed.
posted by schmod at 5:54 AM on November 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Of course his prom night anthem "you're beautiful" has made so many unwanted pregnancies, it cancels avoiding the war out. It's a shame really.
posted by djduckie at 6:34 AM on November 16, 2010


The sheep was brilliant, the sheep was pure, I saw three ankles, of that I'm sure

Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:46 AM on November 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


I respect this dude for having served. I also respect him for not having jumped into a violent confrontation with an opposing force. It sounds like his guys could have totally taken the Russians down...but they didn't, and so a lot of lives were NOT ended or irrevocably changed by needless violence. That's awesome.

His music, um...well, I wish him well with that, just not my cup of tea.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 8:03 AM on November 16, 2010


davejay wrote: "[Minimization of thing famous person did that actually mattered in the larger scheme of things] because [snark about thing famous person did to become famous]"

In the spirit of being more efficient, I'll just leave this here.
posted by wierdo at 8:17 AM on November 16, 2010


James Blunt's Kosovo service pales in comparison to Dick Van Dyke's porpoise story. The bar has been raised for all celebrity stories, raised high indeed.
posted by MikeMc at 9:50 AM on November 16, 2010


According to Wikipedia:

At University of Bristol, his undergraduate thesis was The Commodification of Image – Production of a Pop Idol.

...Blunt captained the Household Cavalry Alpine Ski Team in Verbier, Switzerland, eventually becoming champion skier of the entire Royal Armoured Corps...

Blunt has raised funds for the medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières through benefit concerts and by auctioning opportunities to meet him at his own shows.

He also supports environmental causes, screening the trailer for An Inconvenient Truth at his concerts


So, despite not being very keen on war or Blunt's music, my vote is for badass.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 1:32 PM on November 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


rock stars should make rock music. actors should act. listening to either of them explain how to make the world a better place is painful.

Yes, because achieving success in one realm of human endeavor automatically renders one incompetent and one's opinions mockable in all other realms of human endeavor.

Or, what davejay and IAmBroom said.
posted by Lexica at 2:46 PM on November 16, 2010


I could see Blunt screwing up a military engagement with a false start...
posted by randomkeystrike at 7:49 PM on November 16, 2010


Sure, the geopolitical situation around Kosovo was pretty charged, but this would not have caused World War III by any stretch of the imagination

I don't want to give into the hyperbole, but at the time the Russian moves were very ambiguous and not coordinated with NATO in any way. Despite official pronouncements, it was very easy to suspect that Russia was effectively entering the theater in a manner designed to frustrate NATO objectives. That's not quite the same as, say, entering the theater on the side of the Serbian government, but in a lot of ways they were acting to preserve Serbian sovereignty and play "Tank Man" in front of the NATO assault.

It was some pretty heavy brinksmanship, that's for sure. Once upon a time that took place in the context of peacekeeping to prevent genocide; would that it may once again.
posted by dhartung at 8:07 PM on November 16, 2010


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