The Irish-born brother and sister put their computer programming skills to work creating “Gulf War 2,” an anti-war cartoon on the Internet that predicts an explosion of chaos in the Middle East in the weeks after U.S. forces topple Saddam.
The O’Connors admit that their predicted doomsday scenario is unlikely to happen but point out that they based “Gulf War 2” on informed sources such as the Cato Institute and former national security advisor to the first President Bush, Brent Scowcroft, who have issued warnings about a war on Iraq unleashing regional tensions.
“Some people have been telling me that the war won’t turn out as I have predicted. I know this,” O’Connor said. “They’ll probably fudge through. They might not.”
In the animation, U.S. forces score a lightening victory over Saddam Hussein, who, in the last moments of the war, lobs an anthrax-laden missile at the Israeli coastal city Haifa. Another scud missile follows, hitting Tel Aviv with a payload of depleted uranium. In return, Israel fires a nuclear missile at Baghdad.
Rapidly, the region unravels: a coup in Pakistan puts Muslim fundamentalists in charge of the country’s nuclear arsenal. They supply nukes to Iran and a new fundamentalist regime in the former U.S. ally, Saudi Arabia.
Throughout the animation, a cartoon President Bush is briefed by caricatures from his administration. When Iraq fires the anthrax missile at Israel, the defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, says, “We gave them that anthrax under the condition that they only use it on the Iranians. Is nothing sacred?”
A horrified cartoon Tony Blair looks on as the administration blithely moves from rearming Iraq’s new leader — a carbon copy of Saddam — to war with Iran, just as Saudi Arabia falls to fundamentalists and al Quaeda and the Taliban resurge in Afghanistan.
“All I’m asking people to do is to drop the Saddam equals Hitler thing for two minutes and take ‘what if?’ for a ride,” Dermot O’Connor said. “The victory is pyrhhic. This is a very possible outcome.”
O’Connor said that the game, launched on his website, Idleworm.com, in November is now receiving about 100,000 visits per day and about five emails per minute.
“I’d say 99 percent [are positive],” he said. “Of the negatives, most are articulate and thought provoking. There’s a very small number who are unqualified to have an opinion yet are somehow able to send email.”
The animation is clearly tongue-in-cheek, but at the same time O’Connor does not mince his words. On the section of the website where people can respond with what they think of “Gulf War 2,” he writes: “Contrary to the opinions of some of my critics, very little of the ‘Gulf War 2’ scenario was my own creation. I’m not that clever. One of the more pitiful types of comment that I receive accuses me of only using ‘liberal’ sources. Yeah, I mean, the New York Times, London Times (owned by Murdoch), the Washington Post, the Atlantic, the Cato Institute, James Webb, Brent Scowcroft. . . . They’re all just a bunch of pinkos, right, guys?”
Dermot, who’s 33, and Caragh, 32, both live in Los Angeles, where Dermot has worked for Disney Interactive and his sister is a freelance animator. They moved to the U.S. in the early 1990s.
To see “Gulf War 2,” the address is: www.idleworm.com then click on “Gulf War 2.” O’Connor started his website some years ago with a series of parodies of Microsoft, before he added entertainment parodies and political satire.