Shakespeare Today

The unfolding tragedy in Ukraine sadly reminds me of Shakespeare’s tale of the family feud between the Capulets and the Montagues, the proud “elites” of fair Verona.

I cannot help perceiving here a metaphor for today’s Europe, and in a larger sense for the doomed human species, which has yet to learn how to live together in mutual respect, to strive in harmony for peace on earth — based on justice and international solidarity.

Two households, both alike in dignity
(In fair Verona, where we lay our scene),
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.

We recall that at the conclusion of Romeo and Juliet, the Prince bemoans the predictable and preventable consequences of senseless vendettas, vanities, arrogance and intransigence – a riveting moment:

Where be these enemies? —Capulet, Montague,

See what a scourge is laid upon your hate…
And I, for winking at your discords too,
Have lost a brace of kinsmen. All are punished.

Two households: Ukraine and Russia – alike in dignity… A brace of European kinsmen has been lost, leaving behind orphans and refugees, collateral human damage, while venerable towns and villages lie in ruins. And the dislocation has nullified the benefits of globalization, broken the supply chains, violated freedom of commerce and freedom of navigation through economic sanctions that kill.  Yes, sanctions kill, just like bullets.

The misery continues and gets progressively worse – that’s what the war-profiteers expect, perpetual war, while many in the world invest in the war machine and become complicit by taking sides, delivering weapons, engaging in the sterile blaming game, instead of mediating peace.

Did we not in the West “wink” at the discords? Why have we let our military-industrial complex, Lockheed/Martin, Boeing and all the others prolong this conflict?  Why did we let NATO engage in senseless provocations non-stop since 1997, until a horrible response struck?


Alfred de Zayas is a law professor at the Geneva School of Diplomacy and served as a UN Independent Expert on International Order 2012-18. He is the author of twelve books including “Building a Just World Order” (2021) “Countering Mainstream Narratives” 2022, and “The Human Rights Industry” (Clarity Press, 2021).