defensive victory

defensive victory
   the postponement of defeat
   Used to mask the reality of military disaster:
    On the Cowland front, a complete defensive victory was secured yesterday. (Goebbels, 1945, in translation: the diaries of Klemperer show how such language persuaded many Germans to keep fighting in the spring of 1945 for a hopeless cause)

How not to say what you mean: A dictionary of euphemisms. . 2014.

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