Experiencing some obviously historic events can be deflating in real time. We are living in interesting times and yet they are often more flattening than fascinating. Comparable events from the past, when read about in the future, come with extra knowledge and explanation. There's distance, depth, hindsight, and consequences. They seem worthy of serious study.
What's missing, judging by recent world events, is the random chaos, erratic drama, and lack of thinking through issues and learning from mistakes.
With the US in the grip of an impeachment drama, President Donald Trump's ad hoc style is creating problems as the Administration lurches through foreign policy crises.
America's sudden loss of influence in Syria was accompanied by the betrayal of Kurdish fighters, deaths, displacement and escaped Isis prisoners. Trump described it as "tough love" and said Turkey "had to have it cleaned out". A US ceasefire deal has hardened Turkey's land gains. The White House's response to accusations of Trump self-dealing was to confirm the next G7 Summit would be held at one of his properties.
Yesterday, following a backlash, he scrapped his decision.
On Ukraine, Trump's chief of staff Mick Mulvaney got into a tangle suggesting there was no difference between using pressure to advance national interests and alleged quid pro quos to aid the President's re-election.
Similar shakiness is to the fore with Brexit in Britain, where the process of leaving the European Union looks likely to be delayed yet again.
A new deal was agreed at the 11th hour and British MPs were only given two days before being expected to vote on it. UK media coverage focused as much on the number-crunching for the expected vote as looming implications for Britain and Ireland.
But MPs have put Prime Minister Boris Johnson under a legal obligation to seek an extension. They voted not to approve the deal until related Brexit legislation was passed. From being a question in 2016 of belonging to or quitting the EU, Brexit has escalated to threaten the British union. Polls tend to show that remain is now a more popular option than leave.
And yet there is no certainty that Johnson's deal will be put to a second referendum alongside the option of choosing to stay.
The deal divides the United Kingdom, with England, Wales and Scotland facing a hard Brexit and North Ireland able to stay in the EU customs union. It's not difficult to imagine in 20 years a united Ireland and an independent Scotland with this scenario. There will be regional winners and losers. The Economist reports that within a decade Johnson's deal would have reduced Britain's total trade by about 13 per cent. A new referendum would seem crucial for Britain's democracy. MPs' decision to apply brakes to the Brexit steam train represents a pause for thought.