President Barack Obama reduces the scale of terrorism to pre-September 11 levels

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Some call it wishful thinking, but President Barack Obama has all but declared an end to the global war on terror.

Obama isn't claiming final victory over extremists who still seek to kill Americans and other Westerners. Instead, he's steering the United States away from what he calls an equally frightening threat: a country in a state of perpetual war.

He gave a landmark speech Thursday in which he sought to refine and recalibrate his counter terrorism strategy.

The president asserted that al-Qaida is "on the path to defeat," reducing the scale of terrorism to pre-Sept. 11 levels.

That means that with the Afghanistan war winding down, Obama is unlikely to commit troops in large numbers to any conflict unless, as his critics fear, he tragically has underestimated al-Qaida's staying power.

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