Rainbow Warrior - this Kiwi will never forget

In 1985 the elected French government was exploding nuclear devices in the Pacific on the other side of the planet from France, despite concerted and strident objections from the surrounding nations that had to live with the fallout. They persisted in this practice from 1966 to 1996. This was not a major political issue for the government with their electorate in France.

(Note the Yanks did it too until 1966, and the Brits used the Australian desert)

In July 1985 an unarmed civilian Greenpeace protest ship, the Rainbow Warrior, was moored in Auckland, New Zealand. Agents of the French government secret service (DGSE) acting on orders of the French government, probably the President, entered the country without NZ awareness or permission (pretending to be tourists), violating New Zealand sovereignty. Their divers attached explosives to the ship, moored in the central city, murdering a Portuguese photographer onboard and sinking the ship. The invaders were evacuated by a French military submarine. Two of the DGSE agents were arrested in New Zealand, tried and imprisoned. The French minister of defence resigned, not because they did it - he authorised it - but because they screwed it up.

The New Zealand government decided that lamb exports were more important than principle and chose not to regard this as an act of war. They even gave the two agents back to France supposedly to serve out their sentence. The agents were greeted in France with a parade, briefly imprisoned on a Pacific island with windsurfing facilities, then released ahead of time.

None of this is conjecture or conspiracy theory: it is all a matter of public record, admitted (eventually) by the French governemnt.

The French have a peculiar way of thanking those who helped restore their own sovereignty in two world wars. There are many dead New Zealand soldiers in France - from two wars - but no dead French soldiers in New Zealand. What a pity they didn't leave a few on the Rainbow Warrior invasion.

Sadly the French don't care if they are regarded with contempt by other nations - it is always mutual.