You may or may not have followed the developments about the Iran / nukes / USA story over the last year of so, thus for the purpose of this blog post my summary:
An agreement was reached that Iran stops or reverses some of his civilian nuclear industry activities (there's no evidence for ongoing military nuclear activities) and ongoing negotiations are meant to eventually resolve the conflict peacefully* within the next months.
The price paid for this progress? No new sanctions on Iran.
So basically what happened a while ago was what the existing sanctions were purportedly meant to achieve: Iran becoming cooperative and seeking a diplomatic solution, with the prospect that it doesn't turn into a nuclear power.
Yet something strange happened; some politicians who were very much proponents of sanctions (supposedly to coerce Iran) are now calling for more, even adding them into federal U.S. legislation efforts that otherwise aren't really about Iran at all (such as a veterans benefits bill). They're obviously trying to sabotage the negotiations process, even though sanctions were supposedly meant to coerce Iran into doing what it's actually doing now.
The majority interpretation appears to be that this is merely a symptom of the usually idiotic domestic two-party system politics between the two overtly hostile political parties in the United States: It's being assumed that the sabotage is meant to keep the president from scoring a foreign policy success by solving a chronic issue which the other party's president didn't solve.
I disagree, albeit I admit blaming idiotic politics is not implausible.
My interpretation is rather that the masquerade did end.
The sanctions were never meant to coerce Iran into negotiations, at least not to some of their influential proponents. The sanctions were rather meant to foster a climate of hostility towards Iran, laying the groundwork for "bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran".
It was the same with the IAEA inspections in Iraq post-1996. The smarter Neocons probably understood that Iraq had been thoroughly disarmed in part by warfare and in part by the 1991-1996 disarmament campaign. The dumber ones like Wolfowitz likely didn't, but the smarter ones likely did (at least subconsciously). Ongoing inspections were not meant to disarm; they were meant to keep the 'problem' (which wasn't) alive and to maintain the image of Iraq as a hostile, threatening power. It was about fostering hostility, not about seeking a peaceful solution to an actual problem.
Only a few days ago there were calls for sanctions against the Ukraine (or its government). It didn't sound to me as if someone had thoroughly thought about what sanctions, how they could help - it rather sounded like an attempt to escalate the Western position in the domestic Ukrainian conflict towards open hostility towards the Ukrainian regime.
Maybe I'm right on this, maybe I'm not. Just keep it in mind when the next time someone is demanding sanctions against some country. Is the person (and the represented institution) likely sincere in the quest for a peaceful solution? Are the proposed sanctions better suited to coerce others into a peaceful solution or better suited to foster hostility against a foreign government?
*: That's what the United States, UK and others are obliged to seek in case of a political conflict anyway; a civilian solution. The obligations stem from the Charter of the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty..