WASHINGTON - Twelve years after the "war on terror" began, President Barack Obama wants to pull the United States back from some of the most controversial aspects of its global fight against Islamist militants.
In a major policy speech on Thursday, Obama narrowed the scope of the targeted-killing drone campaign against al-Qaida and its allies and took steps toward closing the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba.
He acknowledged the past use of "torture" in US interrogations; expressed remorse over civilian casualties from drone strikes; and said that the Guantanamo detention facility "has become a symbol around the world for an America that flouts the rule of law."
After launching costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States is tiring of conflict. While combating terrorism is still a high priority for the White House, polls show by large margins that Americans' main concerns are the economy and domestic concerns such as healthcare.
"We have now been at war for well over a decade," Obama said near the start of his address. Toward the end, he added: "But this war, like all wars, must end."