Barack Obama's White House controlled foreign and defense policy more tightly than any other president since Richard Nixon and was filled with inexperienced congressional "staffers, academics and political operatives", according to his former defense secretary.
In his memoir due for release next week, Robert Gates, who served both George W. Bush and Mr Obama as the Pentagon chief, delivers an icy assessment of his most recent boss and his foreign policy, especially the initial surge and draw-down of troops from Afghanistan.
He describes a scene in 2011 when Mr Obama admonishes his advisers at a meeting of the National Security Council after military leaders had publicly questioned whether there should be a fixed date for withdrawal from Afghanistan.
"As I sat there, I thought: The president doesn't trust his commander, can't stand (Hamid) Karzai, doesn't believe in his own strategy and doesn't consider the war to be his," Mr Gates writes. "For him, it's all about getting out."