Section 1083 of the new defense appropriations bill, H.R. 1585, would sure enough have exposed the Iraqi government’s U.S. assets to claims arising from the regime of Saddam Hussein, as the White House’s Memorandum of Disapproval today notes.

The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 generally exempts bank accounts, high-rise condominiums, and other assets of — you guessed it — foreign sovereigns from the risk of a U.S. court judgment.  The exemption aims to avoid needless affronts to the dignity of your Frances, your Canadas, and your Russias, but it doesn’t apply to countries that the U.S. government has declared supporters of terrorism — a category that includes Iraq under Hussein.  We needen’t worry so much, Congress felt, with encouragers and abetters — however sovereign — of al-Quaida, the Taliban, and their ilk.

Blawgletter has no quarrel with the idea that section 1083 would’ve tied up Iraq’s U.S. assets so that victims of Hussein’s brutality might recover damages against them.  Nor do we doubt the foreign policy implications of same or even the wisdom of vetoing the entirety of H.R. 1585 to prevent section 1083 from becoming law.

We note only that immunizing Iraq’s assets represents a cost of war — one that we expect few, if any, will remember to include in the tally and a cost that will likely fall to the victims themselves.

Feedicon14x14 Cost?  You can’t handle the cost!