Markets don't like uncertainty, and there is nothing more volatile than a looming war, let alone a war in the Middle East, where the potential ripple effects and fear of an oil supply disruption can wreak havoc on the global economy.
But is war an event that the long-term investor can profit from, or in the least, is it an event that the average investor needs to prepare for, akin to a military campaign within the portfolio?
Financial advisors caution against investors putting too much, if any, stake in the current showdown between the United States and its allies, and Syria. It comes back to the most basic impulse that financial advisors warn investors against confusing for an investment principle: trying to time the market.
That slippery slope doesn't change whether the timing relates to a Fed taper, a fiscal cliff or a fighter jet getting prepped on an aircraft carrier off the coast of Syria.
For day traders and tactical investors flipping the switch on leveraged and inverse exchange-traded fund positions daily, every new day, even millisecond, is an opportunity.
The double bull oil ETF may be a great bet within a 24-hour window, multiple times, and the shrewd day trader may have gotten in on the 2 percent gains in shares of ExxonMobil earlier this week, but financial advisors and institutional investors also say that those are opportunities long-term investors are well advised to let pass, and staying the course, at least at this point, is probably the wisest strategy.
(Read more: Attack on Syria: The worst and least bad scenarios)
Nick Denefrio, vice president of asset management at Lenox Advisors, said the company is paying attention to events, but has not felt the need to rebalance. He said a small percentage of clients have asked about Syria and the potential impact on commodities, specifically, oil and gold.
Yet the firm is waiting to see if events escalate before making any decision. With big gains in the equity markets this year, financial advisors and investors would like to know if a 5 or 10 percent correction is coming, but only if the events in the Middle East escalate would Lenox consider whether to re-evaluate its underweight position in commodities.
Financial advisors also note that with the huge equity gains in recent years, volatility is something that investors should already be prepared for within their portfolios. The Syrian crisis hasn't changed the game, though for investors who have been thinking that it's onward and upward with stock gains, it is an opportunity to think twice.
"We are generally staying the course, in that we have adjusted our portfolios to handle volatility like this," said David Zier, CEO of Convergent Wealth Advisors, in an email. "Since 2009, the S&P 500 has gained roughly 145 percent. That is the largest advance in the shortest period of time without a correction of 20 percent or more. So, the U.S. market is overdue for a correction. The Syrian crisis is just the excuse the market needed."
Corrections are a normal and expected part of investing in the markets, Zier said, and as a result, the real opportunity may come when volatility gives investors a new opportunity to take advantage of dislocations and mispricing in securities.