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Syrian Conflict

Syrian Civil War: Consequences of a U.S. Strike

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MISSOULA -

Next week, Congress will likely vote on a proposed resolution granting the US permission to directly enter the Syrian conflict for the first time.

"It's going to be a very hard vote for me."

Senator Jon Tester says his mind is far from made up about whether to vote in favor of the resolution or to oppose it.

"Bottom line is, I'm glad the President asked Congress for our input, so we can give him what we think should be done," Tester said.

"There are a lot of challenges in a country that just got out of an Iraq war, is trying to get out a war in Afghanistan and is dealing with a large national deficit ... but also in a country that used chemical weapons against their own people."

Senator Baucus and Congressman Daines have also not taken a hard position and echo Tester's comments that the question of U.S. security in the matter will decide how they vote.

"Some people think that if they let this go and don't respond to it, they may use chemical weapons somewhere else in the world, even here. Some people think if we don't respond to it Iran may have free reign to develop a nuclear weapon, I don't see that way, I think we have to be very careful anytime we enter into a conflict," Tester said.

At home in Montana, Tester says he is receiving many phone calls from residents saying they oppose a strike, but says the delegation is collecting as much information as possible before the vote.

Specialists say economic concern tends to rise with conflict but that really, a strike to Syria would have little impact on industry in Montana or nationally, even if the U.S. went face to face with Russia.

"We're talking about a pretty minimal impact. It's what happens subsequently especially when there's a disruption to commerce, but there again I think the impact is likely to be felt by countries other than to the United States," said Patrick Barkey, from the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana.

The Syrian market is tied mostly to European countries like Germany, Britain and France, all of whom are urging the U.S. To move forward.

"Our European allies are extremely intelligent in pushing us in front while they are hiding behind us," said Professor Mehrdad Kia, from the Central and Southwest Asian Studies Department.

"I think the British looked at it like this is not Iraq, this is not Kuwait, there is no oil at the end of the line, so why get involved when there is no petroleum to gain?"

U.S. officials and the Obama Administration say inaction could be devastating, but some scholars fear retaliation in the Middle Eastern world could hurt U.S. troops stationed in Middle Eastern countries, such as Jordan.

"Either way when you look at this, it's not going to be a win-win situation, it's going to be a lose-lose situation," Kia said.

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