Intimidation or Strike Preparations? translated article, here The American president assured Jacques Chirac that he still favored diplomacy with respect to Iran. Yet indicators of war preparations against the Islamic Republic are increasing. John Rockefeller is one of the best-informed men in the United States. The most important civilian and military officials file through his office. Chairman of the powerful Senate intelligence committee, he has access to most top-secret documents produced by the Bush administration. Ordinarily, this Democratic senator is not talkative. Yet, last Friday, he saw fit to confide in the New York Times. He is very worried about White House plans for Iran. "To be honest," he said, "I'm afraid it will be Iraq all over again." He's not alone. Last week, several Democratic leaders rang the same alarm bell: according to them, the White House is secretly preparing America for a war against the Islamic Republic. Many specialists share their concerns. A former military professor, Colonel Sam Gardiner, is closely following the deployment of American forces to the Persian Gulf. He explains: "Soon there will be two aircraft carriers in the regions: the USS Eisenhower, which arrived several weeks ago, and the USS Stennis, which sailed January 16th." Yet, every time America has deployed two aircraft carriers to the region, bombing ensued. There are other indications of war preparations against Iran. When, at the beginning of January, he presented his new battle plan for Iraq, George Bush announced that America was about to deploy Patriot anti-missile batteries in the region - probably the Gulf States. "Why is he doing that? What has it got to do with the war in Iraq?" asks Trita Parsi, a specialist in American-Iranian relations based in Washington. "The Iraqi insurgents have no ballistic missiles, so what good does it do to install anti-missile batteries? I can see only one reason: last year, Iranian officials let the Gulf States know that if America attacked Iran from their territory, the Islamic Republic would strike back at them. Consequently, Washington wants to protect them against such a riposte. [This seems to be] proof that an attack is being seriously contemplated." That's not all. George Bush has just named Admiral William J. Fallon as commander of American forces in the Europe-Middle East region. Why an admiral for such a position, when the war in Iraq is a ground war? Several specialists see it as an obvious signal that the aircraft carriers will soon come into action against Iran. The same observers note that the number of American submarines crossing the Gulf has increased to the point where accidents with civilian vessels are on the rise. They also observe that after three years of slowed operations, the Incirlik American Air Force base in Turkey, close to Iran, is now operating at full capacity and that several F-16 are stationed there again. They add that the F-16 can carry the B61-11 atomic mini-bombs, the so-called "bunker busters," i.e. able to destroy bunkers - and consequently the nuclear installations Iran is hiding underground.