- NATO has been accused of
a 'cavalier' approach to the Kosovo crisis after it emerged that Britain's
Lt-General, Mike Jackson, defied a NATO command because he 'didn't want
to start World War III".
- Jackson refused to lead an air assault team into Pristina
airport to block the Russians at the end of the Kosovo war.
- "I'm not going to a start Third World War for you,"
General Jackson apparently told US commander General Wesley Clark, according
to Newsweek magazine.
- Clark had allegedly ordered British and French troops
to act after the Russians unexpectedly moved in but Jackson rejected the
- The row revealed the "perilous" risks of a
world war being sparked over Kosovo, according to MPs in Britain.
- Alice Mahon, who chairs the Committee for Peace and Stability
in the Balkans, claimed it demonstrated how close the conflict came to
leading to all-out war with Russia.
- The Halifax MP accused allied leaders of treating Russia
in a "cavalier" manner over the conflict and said: "There
is a macho element within Nato which really frightens me."
- She added: "We should never forget Russia has an
enormous stockpile of nuclear weapons, the country is not as stable as
it should be and they are desperately, desperately worried about their
- Shadow defence secretary Iain Duncan Smith said the row
added relevance to Conservative calls for an investigation into the Kosovo
- He said: "We already know that Nato's claims of
success throughout the conflict were exaggerated, and we're still waiting
for the promised report into the actual amount of Serbian heavy equipment
- "We know that the Serbian army has regrouped in
Macedonia, meaning it must still be considered a threat in the Balkans,
and now it seems that during the conflict the military top brass couldn't
even agree on what direction to take."
- According to the magazine, the trouble flared between
the two men as soon as the air strikes ended and Gen Jackson became commander
on the ground in Kosovo.
- Once Jackson refused the order, the American is claimed
to have then asked the head of NATO,s southern command, Admiral James Ellis,
to place helicopters on the runways to stop Russian transport planes arriving.
- However, Admiral Ellis also said no, saying Gen Jackson
would not like it, Newsweek reported.
- The planes were only prevented from landing after Hungary
was persuaded by US officials to refuse them permission to overfly the
- Both generals turned to their political leaders for backing,
but while the British Government backed Gen Jackson, Clark received no
support. This essentially meant his command was overruled.
- When the American arrived in Kosovo on June 24, he complained
to Gen Jackson that his orders were not being followed only to receive
an answer which included the comment about the risk of a world war.
- News of the rift came just days after US officials announced
that Clark, who oversaw the air campaign which achieved its ends without
a single casualty, would be stepping down early from his NATO post.