NO DOUBT IT'S frivolous to say with any certainly what makes Idi Amin tick. If he is not irrational, he has a sense of theater making him appear to be so. It strikes us a reasonable guess, nonetheless, that President Carter's public expression of "disgust" for his last Wednesday did not particularly soften whatever he may have been thinking about the 200 American missionaries and teachers in uganda. Two days later, in any event, Gen. Amin summoned the Americans in a tone that raised heavy anzieties over the nature of his intentions toward them.

This crisis - an odd one, since the people supposedly subject to detention in Uganda were almost all people who'd long ago chosen to live there - has now eased. The State Department is inclined to attribute this result to its own skillful diplomacy, which included the positioning of a U.S. Navy task force in the Indian Ocean. Perhaps so.We would not so much contest this judgment as note that President Carter might be well-advised to temper his sense of outrage over human rights violations abroad with a proper regard for political realities. He is the President; his words ring. Unless he knows a lot more about the stability of idi Amin than a good number of his top level advisers claim to know, it is hard to escape the conclusion that was indulging his preoccupation with human rights - admirable and right-minded as it may be - at a certain risk to the welfare of several hundred American residents of Uganda. Subsequently, the U.S. government, acting with a discretion not earlier evident at the White House, pulled the chestnuts out of the fire - this time.

However reassuring it is to hear that the Americans in Uganda now seem to be safe, it must be underlined that the "crisis" involving them is only a small and tangential part of the true crisis, which remains in effect. That is, of course, the continuing threat that Idi Amin poses to the life and liberty of his own citizens, some tens of thousands of whom he has murdered, mostly, it seems on religious lines; a Moslem, he kills Christians. The African and Arab states that apparently helped influence him to back off on the American missionaries have done only part of the service they owe the international community and their own good name. Ad expected, the United Nations Human Rights Commission have averted its gaze from the criminal acts of one of the states composing its automatic majority. This makes it all the more incumbent upon the Africans and Asians, acting as individual states, to continue to make their influence felt for the benefit of the Ugandan people.