France's new-found appetite for foreign adventure
Almost exactly eight years ago, George Bush's America was marching into Baghdad and Jacques Chirac's France was howling with indignation that Uncle Sam had become an imperialistic bully.
Indignation there was matched by mirth here. Jokes dwelling on French cowardice became de rigueur.
One of the better ones was: "French gun sold on eBay. Never fired. Dropped once."
The French were famously described as cheese eating surrender monkeys.
Bill O'Reilly built much of his career on Fox News by chastising them. But only last week he was heard praising the French for showing some muscle. So what's got into Bill O'Reilly?
Or more importantly what's got into France?
It was the French, after an initially lukewarm response to the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, who led the call for enforcing Libya's no fly zone.
French jets launched the first air strikes. Before you knew it, France was pounding the headquarters of Laurent Gbagbo in Ivory Coast, a former French colony.
The diminutive Nicolas Sarkozy, who had enjoyed even more diminutive approval ratings, suddenly struts the world stage like another under-sized French leader with an over-sized ego.
Has Mr Sarkozy become Bonaparte? Those who are surprised by this transformation should remember that France has never been as lily livered as its opponents have made out.
The French Foreign Legion has long been a robust, not to say bruising presence at international conflicts.
I remember them well in Bosnia, wearing blue UN helmets but behaving with more clout than any of the other peacekeepers. The French military has frequently shown its muscle in former African colonies, like Chad and the Central African Republic, mostly on the side of embattled regimes.
Ultimately this new-found appetite for foreign adventure may have more to do with domestic woes.
Mr Sarkozy had hit almost historic lows in the opinion polls with an election looming. But it's also about France's continuing quest for the right role on the international stage, motivated by a nostalgia for grandeur that refuses to go away and a desire to be seen, unlike Britain, as a benign counter-point to the United States.
So when it comes to foreign policy it is now US President Barack Obama who is now being accused of smoking without inhaling, to coin a phrase.