It used to be that nuclear weapons were tools of diplomacy, something superpowers could sit on as assurance that anyone foolish enough to invade wouldn't survive the encounter. However, as the world continues to develop, more nations are going to obtain nuclear capabilities, superpowers or not. Such is the case with India and Pakistan.
Nuclear weapons are not being seen as they were during the Cold War. The size of the United States' and Russia's arsenals meant either side could vaporize the other completely. Instead, they are now strategic weapons that allow demolition of select areas, be they densely populated cities or enemy battalions. In short, these are no longer the negotiating tools of diplomats, but the tactical weapons of generals.
The frightening part is that this trend will only continue with time. As the means to construct nuclear weapons fall into more nations' hands, we will surely witness a rise in the number of nuclear powers over the next 20 years. Perhaps then some usefulness will come of India and Pakistan's flirtation with critical mass.
When children are young, you can tell them fire is dangerous and shouldn't be played with. Of course, the only way they will ever truly learn that lesson is to burn themselves.
The Western world learned to respect and fear the power of the atom only after witnessing the destruction of two Japanese cities at the end of World War II. Perhaps if India and Pakistan are foolish enough to play with nuclear fire, getting burnt will teach both them and their neighbours the dangers of such gambles.
Though both sides claim only fools would turn a conflict nuclear, experience has taught any onlooker that when bigotry is involved, stupidity is the rule. We can't assume that every time two nuclear powers come head to head they will sit and reflect rationally about the implications of their decisions.
If the leaders of any terrorist group acquire a nuclear arsenal you can be assured a calculated analysis of Kant's categorical imperative won't determine their actions. The same goes for any government ruled by zealots or fanatics, and sadly, these are the very governments who now actively seek nuclear arms.
Under such conditions, nuclear war is virtually inevitable. Perhaps then, if the entire theatre of the Middle East is forced to witness the havoc of nuclear exchanges and to taste the bitter implications of fallout, some might be convinced that it just isn't worth it. It sounds like a harsh lesson to learn and a tragic, disgusting way to learn it, but ultimately, if it comes to such a war, the Middle East has proven this is exectly the kind of lesson they nee