Vice-President Joe Biden of the US has visited two former republics of the Soviet Union, Georgia and Ukraine that have come under Russian pressure after they stepped up efforts to get closer to EU by reducing dependence on Moscow. With the accession to power of President Barack H Obama last January, the following six months have witnessed a better balance between power and diplomacy by Washington. The two terms of George W Bush had been the heyday of the exercise of military prowess, with the US Defence Budget being larger than virtually all the others combined. However the Bush doctrine proved a dismal failure, and while he did win a second term by conjuring up Osama's threat, US and world public opinion turned hostile. The bipartisan Iraq Policy group had recommended greater reliance on diplomacy as early as December 2005, but neo-cons insisted on their imperial agenda. One has to take into account certain strands of continuity in capitals of the Great Powers. The Pentagon is home to a sophisticated and technologically efficient department, that is fed constantly on foreign policy concerns and intelligence sources. Once the destructiveness of the nuclear weapons used on Japan in August 1945, had been noted the two rival superpowers ensured non-use despite their rivalry and competition of the Cold War era. The two rival superpowers remained in contention for nearly half a century, and entered into proxy conflicts in Vietnam, Cambodia, and finally in Afghanistan where the Brezhnev Doctrine, obliged Moscow to intervene as a communist regime was threatened. The US had turned pacifist after Kissinger's decade of influence under Nixon and Ford, with Democrat Jimmy Carter holding a one term presidency from 1977 to 1981. However the US public opinion reacted to the new militancy from Brezhnev and elected Republican Ronald Reagan to two successive terms when he vowed to fight the 'Evil Empire'. Pakistan under General Ziaul Haq had been subjected to sanctions in 1979 by Carter over its nuclear ambitions that were aroused following "India's peaceful explosion " of 1974. The war in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989 was fought by Afghan mujahideen with CIA capitalising on anti-Communist sentiment all over the world to bring Islamic jihadists to Afghanistan. Pakistan played a leading role in mobilising the Afghan mujahideen who waged such a war that Moscow was obliged to end its military misadventure by 1989. The Soviet Union conceded defeat and disintegrated in 1991. The vast nuclear arsenal was inherited by the Russian Federation under Yeltsin, Gorbachev having suffered eclipse despite five years of reforms. The communist economy collapsed and by 1994 the total GDP of Russia, still the largest country in the world covering II time zones was barely equal to the Netherlands, a small member of the European Union. Yeltsin's decade as president saw the former superpower fall to new lows as its economy collapsed, and the US had to extend substantial financial assistance to enable Russia to safeguard its enormous nuclear and missile assets, still the second biggest in the world. The rise of Islamic revivalism, notably in the Caucasus region, led to an autonomous republic being established in Chechnya that was located athwart a major oil pipeline from the Caspian to the Black Sea. A KGB apparatchik Vladmir Putin emerged on the scene, urging stronger Russian military intervention in the Caucasus, as well as more resolute management of Russia's economy that was falling apart due to corruption and the influence of an underground mafia in Moscow, Yeltsin appointed Putin as prime minister in 1999, who later succeeded him as president. Assisted by capable technocrats, Putin turned Russia around, utilising help from Germany that sought a larger role through 'Ostpolitik'. Russia is back from the brink and has joined China in efforts for a multipolar world order. Bush had extended the Ballistic Missile Defence coverage to Poland and the Czech Republic, which Putin found objectionable. Though he joined the War on Terror after 9/11 he demanded a freehand in Chechnya and some 30 other Islamic autonomous regions in the Russian Federation. An anti-Islamic agenda is shared by Moscow and Washington but, it is being overtaken by new challenges and priorities. Joe Biden's tour constitutes an unmistakable continuation of the rivalry that had marked the Cold War. Despite the idealistic tone of his pronouncements, President Obama is maintaining the Ballistic Missile linkages with Warsaw and Prague established by Bush. The Pentagon, backed by CIA will want to keep Moscow still holding virtually half the world's nuclear weapons, off balance. But apart from the Five Permanent Members of the Security Council, which are acknowledged nuclear powers, at least three nuclear powers have emerged, India, Pakistan and Israel. They need to be associated with disarmament efforts. With Iran and to North Korea both entertaining nuclear ambitions, the world continues to face the terrors of a nuclear holocaust. So we are witnessing the continuation of the competition of the Cold War era between Washington and Moscow, However President Obama's long-term vision is of a world where the real challenges of poverty, climatic change and other forms of environmental degradation receive priority though the abolition of nuclear weapons and the banning of nuclear proliferation that demand a sea-change in global perceptions, notably on the role of the UN. Having held power for barely six months, President Obama's long-term role in global issues is still in the process of evolution. Can he dominate the entrenched bureaucracies of the State Department, the Pentagon and the CIA? His instincts and ideals arouse hopes, but one cannot ignore signs that dictates of hegemony and power play will shape his decisions. Nor should the role of other powerful actors on the world stage be ignored. The growing prominence of the media promises that public opinion will play an increasing role. The world certainly needs more of the higher values, fairness and compassion to create hopes of a truly peaceful world, whose majority in developing countries remains deprived and malnourished. The writer is a former ambassador