That's the common Americanised view of how you could've made Iraq go better, but this is precisely the sort of ill conceived view that I suspect this book is trying to deal with.
The problem is that the Baath party was brutal. Like, really brutal. We're talking about the people who gassed the Kurds, who had no qualms with using human shields, and took no issue with putting power drills through the eyes of captured PoWs as a form of torture.
Given that, it'd be naive to think that that country wouldn't have collapsed into chaos at some point anyway in the exact same way that Libya, or Syria has. You would've also needed to moderate the Baath party to a level whereby it wasn't just gagging for an uprising too.
But, and this is something that review and presumably the book itself in more detail refers to and that's the fact that the Baath party didn't just vanish into non-existence.
In Western media we're constantly being given the impression that IS is a rag tag bunch of bandits. A bunch of local militants and a bunch of foreign militants that have teamed up to cause a bit of case. This begs the question, if they're so rag tag then how the hell are they managing to run a defacto state with all the institutions you'd expect from a state (even if rather warped) like courts, banks, industry, tax collection, communications, media and so on. How are they managing to stand firm against a standing army backed by the most powerful airforces in the world? How are they managing to stand firm against Iranian forces and militias? Against the Syria government with it's battle hardened soldiers and it's typically not available to rag tag militia Russian/Iranian equipment?
The answer? Because the idea that IS is just a bunch of rag tag militants is wholly false. IS is in large part the modern incarnation of the Baath party. Those atrocities they carry out? they're straight out of the Baath party's playbook from the last 40 years. That defacto state they run? It's got all the qualitities of a state because backing it are many professional judges, politicians, and business folk from Saddam era Iraq. Those battles they're fighting? those cities they're capturing? those are the cities they were born in, or served in under Saddam, these are the generals that fought powers like Iran in the 70s and 80s and won, those are the foot soldiers who comprised Saddam's Republican Guard which was one of the most effective special forces units in the region in the 80s and 90s. Every now and then, evidence of this slips through:
When you stop thinking of IS as a rag tag bunch of militants, and start understanding that much of their backbone is comprised of the remnants of Saddam's regime it makes a lot of other things clear. Those atrocities IS carries out? it's not simply because they're evil people (though they are), it's a continuation of the sort of shock and awe horror tactics that Saddam's regime was famous for. When you understand that much of IS is comprised of professional special forces and experienced generals from Saddam's era fighting in the regions they lived in and served in, it starts to be a lot more understandable as to how IS has made so much progress in Iraq. Then finally, in the context of your point on Iran, you begin to understand why IS and Iran are so interested in fighting each other, why the Kurds are willing to so vehemently fight IS even outside of their own territory helping the Yazidis in Iraq, and pushing well beyond Kobane and Kurdish Syrian regions - these are old scores that are being settled. It's the 80s Iran-Iraq war in continuation.
IS can stand up to nation state's standing armies, because it is a defacto nation state with a professional standing army of battle hardened experienced soldiers who know where the military bases are, how they're laid out, how to assault them, and where the guns are hidden, precisely because they used to be garrisoned in them. They know how to use all the military equipment they capture effectively including tanks, anti-aircraft guns, artillery, and countless types of guns and rocket launchers because they've been formally trained in it all when they bought the equipment in the first place all those years ago.
We didn't roll into Baghdad in such short order in 2003 simply because we have superior military power. We did so because Saddam's political base and military forces knew they'd be fighting a war they'd never win, so they melted into the population to fight a shadow war which we've seen their brutal effectiveness at ever since. By the time we turned up to fight them they'd already melted away. That's why it was so easy, but we didn't realise this, and we've paid the price ever since - the real solution therefore in Iraq would've been to ruthlessly hunt down those powers in every house in every street rather than assume the job was done, instead resulting in us getting caught up in a brutal proxy battle between Iranian backed forces, and Baathist backed forces.
Iran, Iraq et. al. are doing what they've done for decades. The West is pratting around at the edges, not really having a full grasp of what's going on instead being more worried about keeping up the idea that IS is just a bunch of rag tag militants that should be targeted and contained as such rather than a full blown state force that should've been hunted down and finished off over a decade ago.
I will pick up this book as it sounds like it covers a lot of these points that I've picked up here and there from Arab and Persian blogs and media over the last decade. It is not a coincidence that so many voices from Saddam's Iraq keep popping up inside IS and it's associates. If IS was just a rag tag bunch of militants, they'd be long done in by now by a coalition that comprises everyone from the Iranians to the Americans, and the Kurds to the Turks, and from the FSA to Al Nusra.