Deadenders, the lot of them.
Except it's their dead-end, and the US and Britian can't seem to get out of it.
In the last week this city has seen 22 car bombs, with 10 on a single day - last Friday. Not far from Baghdad, at Musayyib, between Hilla and Karbala, nearly 100 Shia Muslims were killed.
The shadowy resistance movements seem to be operating on a new and much more ambitious level.
Last summer, and in the summer of 2003, there were similar peaks, though much lower ones: The ferocious heat seems to produce new reserves of anger and violence here.
As I flew in, sitting in the aircraft cockpit, Baghdad lay dark and irregular, like a blotch of ink, straight ahead of us. Below lay the ribbon of road from the south.
In the months after the US-led invasion of Iraq we used to drive up that road to get to Baghdad. By the beginning of 2004 that was already becoming much too dangerous, and we had to fly.
The pilots looked at each other, and the plane went into a fierce dive, down towards the military airfield on the south-west of the ink-blotch.
We straightened out, then banked so steeply to the left that everything loose skidded across the cockpit floor. Then a sudden turn, equally heart-wrenching, in the other direction.
During the hour-long flight the pilots scarcely spoke to me. Ever since an RAF Hercules went down north of Baghdad, six months ago, air crews have concentrated totally on the job of getting their planes in safely.
The plane door opened, and we clambered out. The air was as hot as an electric heater: 50C, even in the late afternoon.
The sun glared down angrily through the haze, reddish and inflamed like a nasty wound.
On average as many people are now dying here every day as were killed in the London bombings
Ahead of us lay the most dangerous stretch of road in the world: the highway from Baghdad to the airport. Two car bombs had just been discovered along it.
Another change since I was last here, a few months ago: the Iraqi national police were out in force along the road, stopping cars of particular makes, and particular colours; that's how they found the two car bombs before they went off.
Yet the greater numbers of police haven't stopped the bombers; on the contrary, they have given the bombers a new target - the police checkpoints themselves.
I visit Baghdad at least four times a year, to see how things are developing. Since the fall of Saddam in May 2003, and the capture of Baghdad, after which major operations were declared over, I have been here eleven times.
Each time the security situation has been markedly worse than the time before.
Briefly, after the election in January, which brought an Iraqi government to power, things seemed to improve; then, after some weeks of fewer bombs and fewer deaths, the level of attacks rose again.
Now it is higher than it has been at any time since May 2003. The supply of suicide bombers seems endless.
Two separate campaigns appear to be going on: the Baathist resistance movement which Saddam Hussein planned and provided vast stocks of weapons and money for, is targeting the Iraqi army and police, and to a lesser extent the American and British forces.
As far as anyone can tell, this is the larger and better equipped of the two main underground movements.
The other is the extremist religious movement headed (we assume) by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, which announced last year that it was associating itself with al-Qaeda. Foreign Muslims in sizeable numbers have come into the country to support it.
Intelligence officials in Baghdad say this group gives the appearance of being more active, because it apparently has a policy of claiming responsibility for major attacks whether or not it has actually carried them out.
But to be honest, who does what is largely a matter of guesswork.
Someone, though, is deliberately targeting Shia Muslims. Last Friday's attack in Musayyib was carried out by a suicide bomber driving a hijacked petrol tanker. It exploded outside the Shia mosque.
Both of the main streams of resistance, the Baathists and the supporters of al-Qaeda, are predominantly Sunni, and both seem to believe that they will benefit if the security crisis here turns into an outright civil war between Shias and Sunnis.
The January election, which for a time seemed to improve the situation, has actually made things more difficult in one way.
Since the Sunnis tended to boycott the vote, the result put political power into the hands of the two other main groups in Iraq, the Shia Muslims and the Kurds.
The US and British governments saw the invasion of Iraq as a liberation, a way of getting rid of a particularly nasty regime. Instead, things are getting much worse.
The casualty figures mean that on average as many people are now dying here every day as were killed in the London bombings nearly two weeks ago.
It has become a civil war, fought out with car bombs and shots to the head, while the foreign forces, US and British and the rest, look on, incapable of stopping it. This isn't how things were supposed to turn out here.