Zaki Laïdi, Project Syndicate, 16 January 2013 (hat tip: NC)
In less than two years, France has carried out three decisive foreign military interventions. In March 2011, its airstrikes in Libya (alongside those of Great Britain) thwarted Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi’s troops as they prepared to retake the city of Benghazi. A month later, French forces in Côte d’Ivoire arrested President Laurent Gbagbo, who had refused to recognize his rival’s election victory, putting the country at risk of civil war. Now France has intervened in Mali.
The American mini-hate fest with France I think started when the French would not let us overfly their airspace on the way to attacking Moammar Gadhafi in 1986 when Ronald Reagan was President. Spain and Italy also refused fly over rights, but France's denial was the most problematic.
From this incident, the idea that the French were pacifistic and non-combative arose. Which is odd because the French have been almost as aggressive as the United States in getting involved in armed conflicts in colonial territories.