Donald Trump's pick for ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has a Vancouver connection

Will the South Carolina governor end up having to defend a U.S. attack on Iran?

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      This week, a friend who was born in India asked what I thought of Donald Trump's nomination of Nikki Haley as America's next ambassador to the United Nations.

      I'll get to my answer in a moment, but first some background.

      Haley's parents, Ajit Singh Randhawa and Raj Randhawa, are from Amritsar in the northwestern Indian state of Punjab. If Haley's nomination is confirmed, she'll become the first U.S. cabinet member of Indian ancestry.

      Vancouver residents are probably not aware that there's a local twist to her family history. Haley's father, Ajit, obtained a scholarship to attend the University of British Columbia in the 1960s. And he graduated from UBC with a PhD in botany in 1969 before accepting a job at Voorhees College in South Carolina.

      "While completing his education, my mother, Raj Randhawa, several months pregnant with me, worked," wrote Haley's sister, Simran Singh, on her website. "Beginning early in the morning until 7 AM, she would have a shift at the post office sorting mail. Next, she would care for two children until the late afternoon, one of which was handicapped. After preparing the dinner meal, she would work at a local department store in the children’s area. After closing, Mom went to the college dormitories to sell Avon and pick up term papers she would type up during the night."

      Haley was born as Nimrata Randhawa in 1972 in Bamberg, South Carolina. She married South Carolina Army National Guard officer Michael Haley in 1996, obtained an accounting degree from Clemson University in 1998, and became South Carolina governor in 2010.

      As a Republican, Haley has opposed women having a legal right to choose on abortion. South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham has called her a "strong supporter" of the state of Israel.

      So what did I think of Haley's possible confirmation of Haley as the American ambassador to the United Nations?

      I told my friend that Haley should not have accepted Trump's post. I predicted that she'll end up tarnishing what has been, until now, a positive reputation in politics.

      That's because Haley will have to defend Trump's foreign-policy moves. And they may include launching a military attack on Iran, which has a population of 77 million.

      Not far-fetched to think about possibility of war on Iran

      Trump's advisors, including his Muslim-baiting national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and former CIA director James Woolsey are notoriously hawkish on Iran.

      Trump's choice as deputy national security adviser, FOX News analyst K.T. McFarland, has accused the Obama administration of enabling Iran to get nuclear weapons.

      Iran claims to be producing 3.8 million barrels a day and has a goal of reaching 4.2 million.

      A military strike on Iran would undoubtedly drive production sharply downward.

      This, in turn, would lift world oil prices, making things much merrier for U.S. and Canadian oil producers.

      One of Trump's biggest supporters and major energy advisers is Harold Hamm, founder and CEO of Continental Resources. It's an active player in fracking for oil in the Bakken shale deposit in North Dakota.

      Reuters even reported earlier this year that Hamm might become U.S. energy secretary in a Trump administration.

      Higher oil prices brought on by a U.S. attack on Iran would, however, be bad news for India. It's led by hardline prime minister Narendra Modi, who's promised to revive the Indian economy.

      According to the Times of India, India's oil imports from Iran reached their highest levels in August: 576,000 barrels a day.

      If oil production was radically curtailed in Iran and prices shot up, it could clobber the Indian economy.

      Indian prime minister Narendra Modi is not going to be happy about any U.S. attack on Iran.

      I wonder if Trump's advisers have already thought about this.

      If so, does this explain his decision to appoint a person of Indian ancestry as ambassador to the United Nations, even though she has no foreign policy experience?

      Was Haley nominated so that when India complains about an attack on Iran, Trump will have someone well-suited to defend this idea to the Indians? If Haley grew up watching Bollywood films at home, she probably speaks passable Hindi, not to mention outstanding Punjabi.

      India has been a steadfast U.S. ally in recent years in countering Islamic extremism, particularly emanating from Pakistan.

      But the U.S.-Indian friendship could go awry if the Trump administration fails to understand that Iran's Shiite leaders are useful Indian allies against Sunni fundamentalists in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

      Moreover, if the Trump administration wages war on Iran—possibly encouraged by Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu—there will likely be uprisings in India as a result of any economic contraction that higher oil prices will bring.

      Here's the reality: Modi is not going to be happy if Trump drops bombs on Iran.

      But demagogues like Trump need to create external enemies to unify their nations. (For more on this, read what Canadian writer Noah Richler says about "epic thinking".)

      Haley is going to be Trump's international mouthpiece. And there's no American politician better equipped to sell war on Iran to the people of India.

      In a similar vein, a former Republican president, George W. Bush, chose a nonwhite person—then secretary of state Colin Powell—to be his international mouthpiece at the UN to justify a U.S.-led attack on Iraq.

      Powell never recovered his reputation after it was proven that Iraq never had any weapons of mass destruction. Any desire that Powell may have had to become president vanished as a result of this.

      Similarly, Haley may find that her reputation will be savaged as she tries to defend Trump at the UN, even if there's no war on Iran. His climate change policies alone will make him an international pariah.

      Had Haley chosen to remain governor of South Carolina, she might have one day had a shot at the presidency. But by joining Trump's cabinet, she can probably write off any chance of moving into the White House—particularly if her new boss gets too trigger happy during his first term of office.