"If we depart from Hungary, it will give a great boost to the Americans, English, and French -- the imperialists. They will perceive it as weakness on our part and will go onto the offensive. To Egypt they will then add Hungary."Rhodes makes it clear that what Khruschev really believed in this case is basically immaterial. Khruschev was looking for a reason to send the tanks in to Hungary, and the ongoing crisis in the Suez gave him a semi-plausible excuse to argue that, despite the fact it had nothing to do with the demands of Hungarian protesters, the Soviet Union could not allow itself to look weak by, uh, following the sane and humane course.
--Richard Rhodes, Arsenals of Folly, p. 50
Not that this has anything to do with anything, but does anyone think that if Khruschev had decided to negotiate with Hungarian rioters, or even leave altogether, the misbegotten invasion of the Suez would have gone over any better? Would NATO tanks suddenly lurch east from some secret hideaways in Austria (still not a NATO member in 2008!) and eventually conquer the Hungarians who were, after all, rioting against an invading imperialist power?
Believing crazy things doesn't become less crazy if you preface your craziness with a deep, sincere belief in your opponent's implacable craziness.