I thought this WikiLeaked account of a meeting between Assistant Secretary for Europe Philip Gordon and several French officials was kind of fascinating. Here’s a window into what I think is the under-discussed question of the economic consequences of a war with Iran:
Levitte said that he informed the Chinese FM that if they delay [sanctioning Iran] until a possible Israeli raid, then the world will have to deal with a catastrophic energy crisis as well. At the same time, the debate over stopping the flow of gasoline into Iran will be very sensitive and would have to take into account which countries would be only too willing to step in and replace European companies. Levitte informed us that they would like President Sarkozy to talk to President Obama by telephone in the coming days to discuss the G20 and Iran. The French are proposing two possible windows to schedule the call.
Now the other issue here is what about this besides its deployment as a talking point to get China to get tougher on Iran? Does the government of France genuinely think that an Israeli attack on Iran will in fact lead to catastrophic energy crisis? Does the American government think that? Does the Israeli government think that? For all the words that have been written on the Iranian nuclear issue, I think this question remains very poorly understood.