Peter Hitchens, writing in the Mail on Sunday, appears to be competing in a contest to see who can cite the most historical questions to which the answer is obviously "no":
What bothers me is the question that never seems to get answered – why Yugoslavia went from being a peaceful holiday destination into a pit of blood in less than five years.
Could it have been connected with the ruthless economic liberalisation forced on it by dogmatic Westerners at the end of the Cold War?
Might it have anything to do with Germany’s revived interest in the Balkans, and the hurried, railroaded EU recognition of Croatia as an independent state that suited German policy so well, but accelerated the bitter break-up of Yugoslavia?
Whatever you make of Hitchens's political views, to which I am exactly opposed in every essential and almost every particular, these are extraordinary remarks. You have to assume that Hitchens has never heard of Karadzic's Svengali, Slobodan Milosevic.
Milosevic became President of the Serbian League of Communists in 1986. He indicated his plans very early, by welcoming an open letter from the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts that called for a Greater Serbia, carved out of the terrorities of other republics. This was the signal for the resurgence of a vehement xenophobia and imperialism, which Milosevic confirmed in 1989 by revoking the autonomy of Kosovo and Vojvodina. It was an obvious and deliberate incitement to Croatian independence that Serbia thereby became the dominant single player in the Yugoslav federation, with three votes out of eight.
The answer to the question why Yugoslavia became a battleground in the early 1990s is thus Slobodan Milosevic, er, ruthless economic liberaliser.UPDATE: I originally said in this post that the autonomy of Kosovo and Vojvodina had been revoked in 1987. The correct date (see comments) is of course 1989.