In the video below, Kyle Kulinski shows a portion of an interview of John Bolton by CNN anchor Brianna Keilar. The exchange at 4:34:
Keilar: Did the U.S. lose the war in Afghanistan?
Bolton: No, I don't think- we walked away from t. I think it's a huge mistake.
Keilar: How can you- walking away? How is that not- I mean, can you explain what you mean by that?
Bolton: Because we weren't defeated.
Bolton a moment earlier had stated that the withdrawal may lead to terrorism in Afghanistan; strengthening of extremists in Pakistan "and the risk of a Pakistani Taliban takeover " of the government in Islamabad, which would give the insurgents "control of dozens or scores of nuclear weapons"; and loss of "our ability to watch on the west of Afghanistan what Iran is up to." But we didn't lose.
So Kulinski asks rhetorically "John, what would victory even mean? What would include- what goals would have to be met in order for John Bolton to say 'yea, we won?"
Bolton isn't alone in refusing to concede national defeat. He is nearly alone in suggesting the possibility of specifying the dangerous implications he believes likely to accrue from an American withdrawal. Coupled with the refusal to acknowledge defeat, it is a dangerous stance, one which can be marshalled to advocate other misadventures on behalf of a nation still insisting it is "exceptional."