AS President-elect Clinton ponders the implications of...

AS President-elect Clinton ponders the implications of hi campaign threat to cancel normal trading relations with China unless Beijing improves its human rights record, he should read a passage in the memoirs, entitled "Hard Choices," by Cyrus Vance, President Carter's secretary of state.

Mr. Vance reveals that no one high in the Carter administration with the exception of national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and the president himself wanted to stick with his campaign vow to pull U.S. troops out of South Korea.


Mr. Vance writes of "a difficult two and a half year period during which the [Carter] policy came under increasing attack from inside and outside the government." In drawing up options, one State Department official "was not permitted to offer as one of the options that of not [Mr. Vance's italics] withdrawing at all."

"Almost all of us had serious misgivings but the president, having made such strong public commitments so early, still felt strongly about it. . . Each time [Defense Secretary] Harold Brown or I tried to raise the subject with the president, we found him adamant. Only Zbig, among the president's senior advisers, continued to favor the withdrawals. Luckily, the depth of the disagreement within the executive branch never became public, although there were a few flurries."


Mr. Vance describes how the issue almost led to a diplomatic blow-up during Mr. Carter's 1979 visit to confer with Korean strongman Park Chung Hee. After Mr. Park was assassinated and after intelligence estimates drew a starker view of North Korea's threat, "the president agreed to suspend the troop withdrawals."

Thus ended a fruitless episode that was hardly mentioned in the Carter or Brzezinski memoirs. But it's an object lesson for Bill Clinton.

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WHEN Tina Brown recently took over New Yorker, everybody knew that the venerable weekly magazine was in for some major alterations.

Other observers have commented on the noticeable changes in New Yorker articles (shorter and more topical) and covers (more modern), but it is left to this department to discuss what we have observed to be major changes in the weekly's advertising.

New Yorker has featured an odd collection of small ads. But as the weeks go by, they are getting odder by the week.

A recent issue of the magazine hawked a cow in a bottle ("You'll wonder how we got her into an uncut standard milk bottle!") and a potato of the month club.

The winner, however, was an ad for a new handbook, "The Toilets of New York," which contains over 100 detailed descriptions of men's and women's toilets in Manhattan, including data on cleanliness, wheelchair access and the number of stalls."


As the ad put it, "If you're in the Big Apple with a small bladder, you need this book."