Evidently, President Joe Biden and his national security team do not fully subscribe to a widely accepted national security premise presented by Richard Hass in his 1997 book The Reluctant Sheriff.

Hass argued that “Americans need to resist the lure of isolationism and maintain spending on defense, intelligence, foreign aid, and diplomacy at current levels.” He warned “anything less risked squandering the spoils of winning the Cold War – and setting the stage for a new era of dangerous global competition.”

Biden is undermining Hass’ maxim by choosing the path of least resistance to avoid direct confrontation with Russia.

The President, to his credit, has organized the NATO “posse” to come to Ukraine’s aid in Hass-like fashion. However, the Biden administration continues to refuse to fully empower Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky and his generals to put an end to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s gang rampage of the Donbas and the Crimean Peninsula.


Evidently, from his White House Ivory Tower, Biden cannot grasp the suffering of the Ukrainian people as civilian population centers are terrorized throughout the country by Russian missiles and drone strikes. Nor, just how precarious it is becoming on the frontlines in Avdiivka and Bakhmut as the artillery munition shortage deepens, giving Moscow a 5:1 advantage.

According to Gen. Chris Cavoli, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander and the head of US European Command, that advantage is expected to grow to 10:1 in the coming weeks.

Artillery is no longer the only munition in short supply though, air defense systems are coming up short and Russian missiles and drones are getting through at an alarming and deadly rate.

In failing to put an end to Putin, a callous modern-day Billy the Kid, Biden is proving Hass correct on a broader global scale. Putin’s co-gangs are aligning and wreaking havoc unafraid of a reluctant sheriff in the form of Biden.


High noon is here.

Not only has an emboldened Russia invaded Ukraine. Hamas brutally attacked Israel, killing over 1,200 civilians. And China is poised to invade Taiwan and North Korea threatens South Korea and Japan.

All are aggressively taking advantage of the permissive environment Biden first began creating by prematurely and haphazardly withdrawing from Afghanistan on  August 30, 2021. Essentially, in Hass parlance, the sheriff got out of Dodge recklessly leaving it and the world stage to the outlaws in Moscow, Beijing, Tehran and Pyongyang.

Biden is compounding this by withholding critical weapon systems and munitions needed in Ukraine. He is slow-rolling their deployment to the battlefields and is setting conditions on their use. The US even secretly modified their HIMARS so Ukraine could not use them to fire long-range missiles into Russia.

Now, in playing November politics with an eye on Michigan, Biden is irresponsibly attacking members of his own posse. He has publicly undermined President Volodymyr Zelensky’s decision to target Russian oil refineries – legitimate military targets. And he has harshly criticized how Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is conducting combat operations against Hamas.


Biden, instead of “assuming the role of global sheriff, forging coalitions or posses of states and others for specific tasks,” as Hass puts it, has abandoned his role as sheriff and taken a spot on the bench all the while criticizing and second-guessing allies who are under fire.

The President has even had the audacity to complain as European nations step up to assume the leadership mantle he vacated. Biden’s posses have taken notice, as evidenced by NATO members seeking a new European sheriff suggesting the US step aside from leading the Ramstein Group.

Biden appears more intent on casting blame than taking on the task of Commander in Chief.

Evidently, securing votes in November has become his priority calculus – not decisively winning wars. Defeating Putin or deterring Chinese President Xi Jinping, both trying to impose their authoritarian vision of a multipolar world, is secondary. Biden’s blind spot from his Oval Office perch is obscuring his understanding of just how dangerously the world is devolving into war.

Washington, and Biden as its reluctant sheriff, need to wake up. Our nation’s enemies are at the gates of the city, and our country’s national security is badly exposed and vulnerable – as are that of our allies, especially Ukraine.


As the saying goes, “if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.” Washington has not been part of the solution since November 2023 and does not appear to be heading down that path. Ukraine is running out of time – Russian mass beats empty artillery tubes every time.

The views expressed in this opinion article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post. 

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