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.
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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."
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"I was deeply uneasy with the Obama White House's lack of appreciation, from the top down, of the uncertainties and unpredictability of war," he writes elsewhere.
While describing Joe Biden as a "man of integrity", he is scathing about the vice-president's judgment.
"I think he has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades," he writes in the memoir, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War.
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His criticism of Mr Biden stands in contrast to his praise of Hillary Clinton whom he found "smart, idealistic but pragmatic, tough-minded, indefatigable, funny, a very valuable colleague, and a superb representative of the United States all over the world".
The angry and even bitter tone in the parts of the book so far leaked is in contrast to Mr Gates' sober and tightly held wise man image over decades in Washington, a career which included heading the CIA.
His anger appears to be due in part to the increasing incivility in Washington and in particular the difficulties of dealing with Congress and getting anything done there.