Okay, I'm sorry, but one of the best presidents the US has ever had? You must be joking.
Nope, I really believe it.
I often judge people by their enemies. And George Bush was demonised by most self-proclaimed politically superior Europeans, white supremacists, Islamists, and the entire "death to the Jews" crowd. That alone, at the time, sent those groups a strong message that not everyone yet submits to their crazy demands.
And I don't think you realise the seriousness of the Iraq war. There is a reason Tony Blair joined the effort. Saddam was not small potatoes.
Saddam was insignificant in a military sense, but he was a symbol for Arab nationalism. Arabs (and many others) _thought_ he was successfully fighting the west, and that had to stop.
(North Korea actually IS successfully fighting the west, but the country doesn't have a huge fan community that builds bombs and tries to take over the world.)
Taking out Saddam proved to the Arab world that they cannot dictate everything to the west, that we still do what we want, when we want it, and against their will about which we don't have to care.
The invasion was a gigantic blow to Arab nationalism which is now thoroughly discredited in the middle east. That's why groups like Hamas are now becoming more popular. They are offering the next alternative. The correct strategy would not be to discredit those movements too, to prove that they too are powerless. But Obama's policies tend to support the idea that they actually have power.
Afghanistan doesn't matter in this equation. For the core of the terrorist supporters, only Arab states and Iran count. They don't look at Pakistan or Afghanistan. (And Obama's presence in Afghanistan in 2001 was a coincidence anyway. He was thrown out of Sudan just a few years earlier.) The Pashtuns and the Taliban couldn't care less about the rest of the world and never had an interest in starting a war with America.
George Bush understood where terrorism came from, as did Tony Blair. And most of the rest of the world didn't. They still don't.
And if he absolutely had to topple a dictator in his axis of evil, why not Iran?
You see, that's the point. He understood why, or at least guessed correctly.
Iran is a special case. Toppling the Iranian regime would have proved nothing to the majority of terror supporters. It had to be an Arab state, and it had to be one of the pan-Arabist regimes.
The Iranians, the people, are very pro-American (heck, they burn Russian flags on the streets when their regime told them to burn American and Israeli flags). Their regime knows that. Ahmaninejad's rhetoric is for Arab consumption, not for locals.
If Bush had attacked Iran (which would have been much more difficult because there would have been no reason to do so other than enmity between the countries), Iranians would likely have rallied around the regime just as they did when Saddam tries the same. This is not exactly what we want.
In Iraq it was different. Removing Saddam from power did not make Iraqis support him more (although it did make western lefties support him more). And part of the exercise was to show to the rest of the Arab world that the west is RIGHT and their pan-Arabist leaders are WRONG.
That part failed, but not because of George Bush. It failed because the western media didn't play along. When their favourite dictator was toppled they kept reporting from Iraq as if it was the greatest disaster humanity has ever lived through. The media also happily lied not just about Bush's time in the National Guard but also about developments in Iraq.
Yes, elements of the war were handled wrongly, but they were mostly those that depended on the media reaction. I doubt anybody could have foreseen the extreme hostility the western media had towards George Bush and his ideology. The "insurgency" couldn't win, and they knew it. But they could convince American opinion that the war was futile (or even morally wrong). And for that they needed the help of the media and it surprised me that they had such support.
I assume it surprised the administration too. They were not qualified to handle it. That's where the ignoramus part comes in.