John Mueller, author of Atomic Obsession: Nuclear Alarmism from Hiroshima to Al-Qaeda, discusses his article “Why Al-Qaeda May Never Die;” how “al-Qaeda” is used as a catchall name for terrorist groups, even those tangentially related to the original; why a large percentage of Americans fear terrorism even though dying in an attack is about as likely as being struck by lightning; US alliances with radical Islamic insurgents in Libya and Syria; and how imperial overreach hastened the Soviet Union’s collapse.

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