SE41 Week 7 – My Triumphant Return and KABOOM

Hi! Remember me? I do! I apparently took an unannounced summer hiatus, and really, with it being hot out and us living in Canada, wouldn’t you too? I would. I did. But my mom is relentless, and has demanded that I return to my post, so I have (and not exclusively out of a sense of familial duty). Oh and by the way, come down to the Celtic Cross on Thursdays and you can probably play with my mom and dad. Seriously. Enough ado, let’s do it.

Last week we learned about an event meeting at the extremes of the dastardly and stupidity axes: France’s hare-brained scheme to blow up Greenpeace’s boat.

Now before we get started it’s worth clearing something up. The fall of France in the Second World War cursed France with a terrible military reputation, that of surrendering, collaborating, cowards. But let’s not forget that these were basically the same people who managed to survive this:

Battle of Verdun
Battle of Verdun

And France came up with the terrifying French Foreign Legion wing of their Army. Here’s the deal: anyone in the world can join, and you can even join under a fake name if you’re running from your past (say, being a violent murderer). Then you get to be treated like cannon fodder, since no one really cares if you live or die, and if you survive three years you get to be a French citizen. Bonus: if you get wounded you can get citizenship right away under the rule “French by spilled blood”. Yes, this still exists. You can join today! So one bad month with the Hun shouldn’t lead us to believe that these aren’t people to be messed with.

So let’s journey back in time to 1985. The French decided that they would add a new name to their list of arch enemies, joining counterfeit champagne, and pressure to reduce agricultural subsidies. The new enemy of the people: Greenpeace. France was planning to do some nuclear tests in the Pacific, to answer pressing questions like “can you nuke a whale?” and “can you nuke a whale shark?”. Greenpeace was opposed to this idea and planned to sail their ship the Rainbow Warrior over to France’s radioactive paradise to protest and disrupt the operation. This was a bridge too far for the French! And so they seemingly employed the services of Jeff Gillooly to hatch a plan to prevent this unacceptable protest.

And thus they launched Operation Satanique. Yes, that was the name. If you’re going to be a villain you might as well embrace it, right? Surely. French operatives infiltrated Greenpeace, taking tours of the boat, and getting ready for the big day. On July 10th 1985 the French struck! They blew a hole in the ship and everyone evacuated. The plan was to then detonate another bomb and sink the Rainbow Warrior, but they waited too long and people started returning to the listing ship to see what was going on when BOOM. The second explosion happened, killing a photographer as water rushed into the ship, drowning them. With that the Rainbow Warrior was taken by the waves.

Now hurry, nuke the ocean!
Now hurry, nuke the ocean!

An extensive New Zealand police investigation followed, which eventually saw some of the French operatives nabbed, and ultimately resulted in the French government admitting that they had done it.

France had to pay Greenpeace, New Zealand, and the family of the guy they murdered cash as compensation, and a couple of people went to jail for two years. And, as is almost always the case when a government goes waaaaaay over the top to oppose some cause, the cause won. A flotilla of enraged Kiwis sailed to the French test site, and France ceased testing for a decade, allowing whales to get all uppity and arrogant.

The whole episode is especially stupid because France could have simply allowed the Rainbow Warrior to leave harbour and arrive at its destination. Zut! Nous avons penser que c’etait une baleine.


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