Dictators rule by keeping their inferiors divided and Tito was no exception. His Yugoslavia was a "federation" where the numerically dominant Serbs where kept "in check" by a union of the different minorities. This was a recipe for disaster once the Tito died and Yugoslavia became more democratic.
After Tito's death Yugoslavia bacame rudderless. The coalition of the most advanced and the most backward member states was not capable to formulate an economic policy - or any policy at all.
It is often said that Milosevic rose to power on a wave of Serb nationalism. But that is a very inaccurate description of the situation. The federation created a climate where every republic had to fight for its own interests: it led to polarisation instead of cooperation - in every republic you saw a rise of nationalism. And it led to the call for a stronger central government. It was on those two waves in public opinion that Milosevic rose to power.
I believe that a federation is an impossible form of government in a democracy. A country needs a core around which it is organized. In the case of Yugoslavia it was clear that Serbia had to be the core. At a short distance you would have the other Serbo-Croat speaking areas: Bosnia, Montenegro, Vojvodina and Croatia. Those republics could very well be melded together. The world is full of countries with more than one religion. At the third level you would have the Slovenes, Macedonians and Albanians who would have special minority rights.
Such a construction would not mean that the Serbs had more power than the others. It would just be the application of the "one man - one vote" principle. It might need some gestures to make it acceptable for the other Serbo-Croat speaking groups. For example one might have moved the capital to Tuzla or some other more central place. Another gesture might have been the abolishment of the cyrillic Alphabet for the Serb language.
It is not nostalgia that makes me consider these possibilities. I believe that Milosevic saw the weakness of the federal model and the need for a stronger core. Unfortunately he was not as a visionary, but rather instinct driven. It didn't help either that he didn't have a strong moral attitude. His solution for a stronger core was so rude that he not only failed to formulate an attractive future for the non-Serbs, but he actually alienated them - accelerating the breakup.
A similar thing applies to position of the Serb minorities in other republics. Seeing how they were discriminated he was fully right to speak up for them. But somehow he failed to understand that polarisation in the long term undermines the position of minorities.
The Western "mediation" only aggravated the situation. Most of those diplomats didn't understand anything about the issues at stake. The report of the Badinter Commission that guided Western diplomacy during most of the time is one of the worst documents ever written. It tried to impose some random values that were in fashion at the moment while ignoring other values (and common sense).
A visionary diplomacy might have made up for Milosevic's shortcomings and played on his longing for recognition. Instead we saw an opportunistic diplomacy that spoke about some vile "great-Serbia" ideal, "rightfull longing for self-determination" and the "integrity of borders" without realising that these are just three faces of nationalism.
As Von Clausewitz said: war is the continuation of diplomacy by other means. This was very true for Milosevic. But he was not the only one: all sides tried to create facts on the ground instead of waiting for diplomacy. What is striking on the Serb side is that so much of that violence was useless. There was no advantage in the massacre at Srebrenica and the Muslims of Prijedor could have been safely left as an irrelevant minority in the Serb Republic. But somehow the leadership didn't recognize this.
But here too international politics didn't help. Milosevic was very much a provincial guy who didn't understand international politics and was every time surprised when the internationals turned against him. This made the conflicts for him unpredictable and resulted in unnecessary victims. It is very well possible that if the West had left the situation alone Milosevic calculations might have worked much better and much less blood would have been spilled.
I consider it legallized torture to keep someone locked up for 10 years in a strange country far from his family where he has to attend nearly daily some stressful process. Only very strong people can keep up with that for so long and it is no coincidence that the Yugoslavia Tribunal has seen quite a few people die in prison or shortly after a medical release. A process is meant to be a place where it is decided whether someone is guilty - not as a punishment in itself.
Prosecutor Del Ponte has a history in prosecuting maffia leaders. With the maffia it is considered quite acceptable to do everything to get and keep them behind bars. And it is considered very important to get the leaders. Mrs. Del Ponte has applied the same principles to the Yugoslavia Tribunal. The claims made by the prosecution are generally very wide and have in many cases proved to be untenable. They have helped the prosecution to indict leaders like Milosevic and Mladic, but the price has been a loss of focus and moral authority.
The Tribunal has been most successful in concrete cases like Srebrenica, the Omarska concention camp and Foca. But in the case of Milosevic where it tried to prove broad and vague accusations it has gone nowhere. Even if Milosevic had been convicted it would have been widely seen as victors justice.
The Tribunal could have been a place where moral rules where set for how to behave in a conflict area. Instead it has become a circus that must confirm the West in their belief that they were on the right side. Prosecutor Mrs Del Ponte makes on me the impression to be obsessed about her career. She is a master in Orwellian newspeak and has managed to let many people believe that "indicted war criminal" is the same as "convicted war criminal". The carelessness with which she handles the rights of the suspects and her behaviour in the court room make me wonder whether she cares any more for all those senseless deaths in former Yugoslavia than Milosevic.
Milosevic was for me a rather mediocre guy with one outstanding quality: a feeling for politics and how to acquire and keep power. He lacked strong convictions and was morally weak. History placed him in the middle of number of conflicts and he failed conspicuously. But I don't think he deserves to be blamed as the single culprit. The other parties - including the West - had the same weaknesses. Milosevic blame may be larger than that of the others - but it cannote be determined without determining the blame of the others as well.