Sample Student Essays: Examine the long- and short-term causes of one 20th-century war.

From the May 2018 IBDP History Paper 2 Exam

 Examine the long- and short-term causes of one 20th-century war. 

As stated by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, “A civil war is not a war but a sickness...The enemy is within. One fights against oneself”.
The Spanish Civil War, which took place from 1936-39, began following the failure of a military coup in its aim to take control of the entire country, and was the outcome of political polarisation in Spain that had already been brewing for several decades before the outbreak of the war. It was seen as the equivalent of Fascist takeovers by Mussolini and Hitler. The war led to the intervention of other countries on both sides, with the Nationalists, or rebels, receiving aid from Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, whilst the Republicans were helped by the Soviet Union and the International Brigades, which was made up of European and American volunteers. Regarding the origins of the Spanish Civil War, there were long- and short-term causes that were to blame for this ruthless conflict. This essay will discuss that whilst political issues were the main causes, long- and short-term, there were also other factors, especially when taking the long-term causes into consideration.
Officially, the Spanish Civil War began on July 17th, 1936, only four days after the murder of Jose Calvo Sotelo, a Spanish politician and jurist. The assassination followed the victory of the Popular Front government in the general election on Febrary 16th 1936, in which Azaña was restored to power with a liberal but not radical manifesto. This event was seen as both a pursuit to keep democracy and peace and also an operation of extremist communism, highlighting the extent to which Spain was polarised at the time. Furthermore, this threw the Spanish Confederation of Autonomous Rights (Confederación Española de Derechas Autónomas), or CEDA into a pit of disruption, which was unusual, as usually the CEDA itself was the one at the root of chaos subsequent to its formation in February 1933, shortly after Azaña lost much of the support he once had. For example, it was what sparked the Asturias rising in October 1934, when Catalonia attempted to declare independence, however the act of freedom was suspended after the uprising of the Asturian miners against the right-wing government. Going back a decade, Spain was already suffering, as the country had no resistance to the coup of General Primo de Rivera, who established an authoritarian right-wing regime to solve Spain’s problems. Due to this, he was able to rule ruthlessly for seven years (1923-30) and undermine the legitimacy of the monarchy before his resignation in 1930. Additionally, Spain had twelve unsuccessful governments between the years 1918-1923, further presenting the political instability and struggles between periods of conservatism and liberalism. Moreover, extremists in Spain believed that the country’s problems stemmed from long-term issues that could only be fixed by war, in particular after the establishment of the Second Republic in April 1931. This was also the Republican movement that overthrew Alfonso XIII. These long-term issues were not also political, but also industrial, economic, and army-related.
Many of the short-term causes of the Spanish Civil derive from there being ‘Two Spains’ at the time, however this polarisation began long before the war ever broke out. There was the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) and VGT controlling urban areas, but the Communist Party, Socialists, and Liberals were also present in Spain, all of which were divided over reforms, which could’ve been the lead up to Spain failing to keep a stable government closer to the start of the war. There were an abundance of different political issues, including corrupt or rigged elections, the church using its wealth to gain political and social influence, and power being held mostly by the wealthy oligarchs of society. In addition, there were struggles between the centralist state and Catalona and the Basque Provinces after Primo de Rivera took
 back Catalonia’s self-governing rights. The effects of WWI, the Russian Revolution, and the final loss of the Spanish empire in 1898 also had a further effect on Spain that could have been somewhat at fault for the Spanish Civil War, destroying much of Spain’s political strength.
Aside from political injustices and problems, Spain was also faced with industrial issues long before the war. There was a huge need for modernisation and reform, as industrial workers struggled with low wages, long working hours, poor working conditions and housing, and more. Agriculture was Spain’s main source of economy and employment, but it did not provide enough food, as work was seasonal. Furthermore, the agricultural system was feudalistic, with anarchists advocating for the redistribution of land. The expansion of any agricultural land was also limited by poverty. For all of the reasons mentioned above, it is understandable why the country was so divided, not only over politics but also industry (in this case, mainly agriculture), and also the economy.
Moreover, there were several different origins of economic issues that contributed to the long-term causes of the Spanish Civil War. The post WWI depression was one of them, as well as the end of the Moroccan war in 1924, which put Spain in severe debt. The Church was also an issue, as it controlled education and certain important elements of the economy, however only really supported the upper classes, therefore was resented by the poor peasants. They saw the Church as a part of the wealthy classes that oppressed them, forbidding them to ever attempt to move up in the economic and social hierarchy. Spain was completely segregated, with land being owned by the ‘Grandees’ (Spanish nobility) in the south, and peasants owning insufficient land in the north who were supported by the anarchists. In the north, there were also riots which were repressed by the Civil Guard, but still even decades before the war there was violence and division within the country.
The Spanish army was seen as a protector of the nation that intervened in politics if a crisis ever were to occur. However, it was unpopular due to its brutal reputation and heavy taxes, and also ineffective, as shown by the loss of the Spanish empire and struggle to keep control of Morocco between 1906-26. Knowing this, it can be understood why the civil war escalated in Spain, as it is unlikely that it would be able to keep control of its own population if it could not control Morocco’s, which has always been much smaller. In addition, the army was too big, with too many officers, and there was a desperate need for reform as with too many officers, it is difficult to keep order within the army. Similarly to the Church’s preference to the upper class, upper and middle class dominated officer corps and were generally conservative, so the lower class and those who were not conservative were completely excluded.
To conclude, although it was technically the assassination of Jose Calvo Sotelo and other significant events shortly before that that caused the Spanish Civil War, one cannot forget the political, industrial, and economic issues that Spain had been struggling with long before such events, which may have not even happened if such problems had been resolved earlier. If such had been successful, Spain would most likely no longer have been polarised, meaning that no civil war would’ve ever broken out. For these reasons, whilst the short-term causes of the Spanish Civil War are obviously significant to the reasons as to why the war started, these would not have arisen without the long-term problems Spain had already been faced with.
 Works Cited
Untitled, Accessed 11 December 2022.
Byrne, Justin. “Spanish Socialist Workers' Party.” Wikipedia, Accessed 11 December 2022.
“History- Spain Flashcards.” Quizlet, Accessed 11 December 2022.
“The Long Term and Short Term Causes of the Spanish Civil War.” Prezi, Accessed 11 December 2022.
“Spanish Civil War | Holocaust Encyclopedia.” Holocaust Encyclopedia, Accessed 11 December 2022.
Woodcock, George. “Spanish Civil War | Definition, Causes, Summary, & Facts.” Encyclopedia Britannica, published 8 November 2022, Accessed 11 December 2022.

 Paper 2: Examine the long- and short-term causes of one 20th-century war.
As a Spaniard, the Spanish Civil War of 1936–1939 is deeply ingrained into my history, as it played an instrumental role in forming the Spain that I know today. Due to the extent of foreign involvement and the supposed direct confrontation between communism and fascism, the Spanish Civil War, which saw a conservative, monarchist, Catholic Nationalist faction overthrow a Republic ruled by communists, socialists, and anarcho-syndicalists, is often touted as the "dress rehearsal for World War II", and, while this may or may not be true, its profound effect on Spain and the world is undeniable. However, in order to properly understand this complex and influential conflict, it is crucial to examine the causes of the Spanish Civil War, both in the long-term and the short-term. In this essay, I will argue that the long-term processes of the Spanish Empire's decline and the class struggle within Spain, combined with short-term causes including the Great Depression, the left-wing government's reforms, and the assassination of José Calvo Sotelo, led to the outbreak of civil war in Spain, and that fascism was not a key factor.
In the long-term, the Spanish Civil War was caused by the gradual decline of the Spanish Empire and the subsequent surplus of military officers concentrated in the Army of Africa. Having been the first empire known as "the empire on which the sun never sets" and having brought Catholicism to the New World, the Spanish Empire's decline, initiated by the Spanish American wars of independence in the early 19th century, was particularly humiliating for Spain, a once proud and powerful nation that saw itself reduced to a rump state. The final blow was delivered by the Spanish–American War of 1898, which resulted in Spain's loss of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines. This was a key turning point, as, after the Spanish–American War, the considerable number of military officers that had been necessary to control a colonial empire but were now superfluous returned to Spain, eventually becoming primarily concentrated in Spanish Morocco as part of the Army of Africa. Given that these military officers were, for the most part, conservative, monarchist, and devoutly Catholic, this concentration of military personnel in Spanish Morocco later served as a powerful basis for a Nationalist uprising against the Popular Front government, which many in the military saw as betraying everything Spain stood for, especially in terms of religion. On the other hand, with regards to the Republicans, it can be argued that the Second Spanish Republic's creation and controversial reforms, which were a short-term catalyst of the Spanish Civil War, were caused by the long-term process of the class struggle within Spain. For centuries, Spain had, much like most of its European contemporaries, been a deeply hierarchical society, with the lavish life of the aristocracy starkly contrasting the horrendous standards of living that the peasants were subjected to. In fact, Antony Beevor introduces his well-known book The Spanish Civil War by using an image of Alfonso XIII, King of Spain until 1931, being pushed forwards in his broken automobile by peasants, to illustrate the extent of the divide between social classes in Spain and the effect this had on the sentiment of the populace. This is a valid representation of Spanish society at the time, seeing as the income share of the top 0.01 percent of the population was around 1.5 percent in the early 1930s, compared to around 0.8 percent in 2005. By the 1930s, Spain's working class population had endured centuries of hardship while watching the monarchs indulge in luxuries – it is not surprising that they embraced the opportunity for change and
 helped bring about the Second Spanish Republic. By doing so, they plunged Spain into the period of instability that would culminate in the Spanish Civil War.
While the Spanish Empire's decline and the class struggle within Spain made civil war possible, it is vital to consider the short-term causes that triggered the Spanish Civil War. One of these was the Great Depression, which led the Spanish economy to drop 20 percent below its usual trend in gross domestic product (GDP) throughout the 1930s. When economic downturn first occurred in 1929 and the value of the Spanish peseta fell, the Spanish military's grievances with dictator Miguel Primo de Rivera grew, causing King Alfonso XIII to withdraw his support for Primo de Rivera, who resigned on January 28, 1930. This proved to be detrimental, as Primo de Rivera's successor, Dámaso Berenguer, was unable to consolidate power and, on April 14, 1931, the Second Spanish Republic was proclaimed and Alfonso XIII left Spain as a result of the 1931 Spanish local elections, which were perceived as a plebiscite on the monarchy of Alfonso XIII. The Great Depression had ended a period of relative stability under Primo de Rivera and ushered in the Second Spanish Republic, which further divided Spain politically and whose radical reforms where another short-term cause of the Spanish Civil War. The reforms enacted by the left-wing government of Manuel Azaña, who became prime minister of Spain on October 14, 1931, included granting more autonomy to Catalonia and the Basque Country, separating the Church from the state, ending religious education in schools, compulsorily retiring many military officers, nationalizing large estates which were mostly owned by the Church, and attempting to increase the proletariat's wages. While these changes were welcomed by most city-dwelling young people and women, the Spanish land and business owners, as well as the military and the Church, were furious. The military was especially fearful, as it saw the government's crackdown on military officers as an existential threat. Although a right-wing government was able to take power in the 1933 elections, the Popular Front, a coalition of communists, socialists, and anarcho-syndicalists, among others, took power in 1936, at which point political division in Spain became even more evident. As stated by José María Gil Robles, leader of CEDA, a right-wing party, in a parliamentary session on June 17, 1936, the Republicans had, since February 1, 1936, destroyed 160 churches, murdered 296 people, and assaulted 83 newspapers. Acts like these are a perfect example as to why several high-ranking military officers led by General Emilio Mola had been plotting to overthrow the Republican government since April 1936. Those in the military who were still hesitant or thought a coup lacked justification were finally convinced on July 13, 1936, when José Calvo Sotelo, a prominent conservative, monarchist member of the Congress of Deputies (the lower house of Spanish parliament), was murdered by socialist militiamen. This assassination represented the final catalyst for a civil conflict in Spain that had been brewing for months, if not years, and it also confirmed the Nationalists' view that they were fighting a godless, terroristic regime. As is expressed in the Spanish saying; "nos acostamos en una monarquía y despertamos en una república" ("we went to bed in a monarchy and woke up in a republic"), Spain was not prepared for nor fully open to the far-reaching changes implemented by the left-wing government in such a short period of time – they were too sudden and too radical to ever be successful, instead becoming a trigger for internal conflict.
It is important to note that it is still widely believed that the primary cause of the Spanish Civil War was fascism, following in the path of Germany and Italy. For example, Paul Preston, author
 of some of the most critically acclaimed books on the Spanish Civil War, points to the rise of Spanish fascist movements such as the Falange as a key factor in the country's descent into conflict. However, this is easily disproven by the fact that the Falange only received 0.07 percent of the vote in the 1936 Spanish general election, demonstrating that the vast majority of the Nationalist faction did not align itself with fascism. It is also difficult to broadly categorize the Nationalists in Spain as fascists, seeing as they did not really have a "us and them" doctrine, were mainly a reactionary movement wishing to preserve the status quo, and were made up of many different groups with varying ideologies. While Preston may be right in saying that the Falange contributed to the Spanish Civil War, labeling the Falange a "key factor" is an exaggeration, which must be taken into account when examining the causes of the Spanish Civil War.
In summation, it is clear that the long-term processes of the Spanish Empire's decline and the class struggle within Spain laid the foundations for the Spanish Civil War, which was triggered in the short-term by the Great Depression, the left-wing government's reforms, and the assassination of José Calvo Sotelo. The individual events contained in each of these causes may have, when viewed on their own, seemed unlikely to unleash a conflict that ended up killing around half a million people, which indicates the importance of fully considering all implications of historical events. Thus, after examining the long- and short-term causes, one can conclude that the Spanish Civil War, much like many other conflicts, began long before the first bullet was fired.


 Examine the long- and short-term causes of one 20th-century war.
The Spanish Civil War, spanning from 1936-1939, culminated the polarization of the life and politics in Spain, which arose thanks to a failing government and an economic crisis following the Great Depression. Such brought about much unrest among the Spanish people, leading to impulsive reelections and revolts, eventually bringing about the election of the left wing ‘Frente Popular’ (Popular Front) in February 1936. This was met with discontent by the Nationalist right, where the murder of their political leader, Calvo Sotelo, in July 1936 was the last straw regarding revolution, and soon after war. The following essay will argue that financial (long term) and political (short term) unrest were the predominant causes of the Spanish Civil War, and will further discuss the separation within Spain which amounted to such a War.
The long term effects of the depression coupled with the ineffective economic policies in place throughout the early 1930s paved the path to Civil War. The first sign of financial struggle came at the end of Rivera’s reign (1923-1930). Rivera, who came to power as a military dictator in 1923, reformed Spain and rectified its financial struggles, by industrializing a backwards country. Rivera was able to implement many reforms, such as increasing foreign trade by 300%1, but his economical victories came to an end as the depression hit Spain hard in the early months of 1930. The peseta fell drastically against other currencies, and their bad harvest the previous year did not aid the cause whatsoever 2. Exports of iron and oil, which once were higher than ever, now exponentially declined, and working class unemployment was at an all-time high. Rivera found himself stuck in an economic slump, in which he found no escape. Once he lost the backing from the military, public unrest and pressure caused him to resign and hand the regime back to the Monarchy 3. This proved to be pointless, as King Alfonso was unable to do any better than, and was forced to abdicate only one year later. Spain had since become a republic, but governance came and went, as none was able to bounce back from the economic hardship in which the depression had placed them. The working class stared to condemn the republic, and found it no better than the monarchy or dictatorship, as their wages were incredibly low. The left wing government at the time acted quickly to squander any reason for a revolution by implementing a polices such as the
 8-hour-day and the Law of Municipal Boundaries, which forbade hired workers who weren’t local to the owner's holdings1. This law caused unemployment to rise further, and brought about more social turmoil. In a desperate attempt to decrease unemployment, they started to regulate the use of machinery, which alienated the landowners, who now had neither people nor machinery to work their fields and factories. The Spanish governance changed constantly, where every new leader reversed changes made by the last, sending Spain into an economic dilemma. This cause great polarity among Spain, as each new government made reforms which aided different classes of people. Strikes and arson were an everyday occurrence, the largest being the Asturian miners revolt of 19341, the first major sign of an impending revolution. The polarity among the Spanish populace thanks to the long term effects of the depression and the failure of the republic to enact useful policies brought about the formation of two extremist parties; the Frente Popular, a group of socialists, anarchists, syndicalist and communists, and the Nationalists, which were made right wing groups such as the Falange. The mass unrest and financial crisis among the working class most definitely led to the regions filled with different social classes to side with different extremists sides. When the Frente Popular took control of the government in the 1936 rigged election, the working class whom which sided with the Nationalists started to revolt, while the middle class sided with the Frente Popular. This bringing about the Civil war in which the country was split between the density of the classes. With the ever-changing governments unable to make financial reforms to reverse the effects of the great depression, Spain spiralled into chaos and division, a breeding ground for Civil War.
The short term effect of the constant political change and poor political decisions effectively led to the beginning of the Civil War. The constant changing of the government in the years following up to the war left Spain divided, as with every new regime came new policies, and abolishment of old ones. In 1932 the left wing government under the lead of Azana was in power, they placed law in place which they expected would aid the development of Spain. One of their laws was an attack on the Church, which separated the Church and state by cutting funding and expelling the Jesuits4. Since they were mainly the educators in Spain, they now had a huge crisis in terms of teachers and education, which made the middle class and lower classes very  uneasy. They also started nationalising large estates, meaning that landowners were losing land which they rightfully owned to the state. Bringing about more unrest, and fuelling protests and strikes. In 1933, the government set fire to houses in a village known as the Casas Viejas Incident, which lost them the support of the working class, causing the Right winged CEDA party to win the November 1933 general elections1. But, they were denied the house by the Left republicans, who tried to cancel the votes and instead brought the RRP to power.3 Such brought major unrest to the streets of Spain, as voters felt that their right was being taken away from them, and they such corruption should be punished. After almost a year of protests and violence in the streets, CEDA was given the seats in the Senate which they deserved in hopes that the revolutionary ideas would wash away. But then a revolt by the Asturian miners led to a fierce battle in which the Spanish military squandered the revolution, leading to hatred from the working class. The CEDA once in power, then reversed lots of Azana’s policies, canceling the reforms of the new Catalan government, and refusing the Basques their own government. The Basques, who had previously supported the right, now condemned them and switched to the left. By reversing the polices, CEDA effectively stabbed themselves in the back and lost the support of two major regions in Spain5. As the government returned the land to landowners, they became fiercely in favor of the right, and started to abuse the workers. They started firing leftist workers and taunting the workers by telling if they were hungry to “go eat the republic.”[4] In 1935 the RRP came back into power since the CEDA had lost much support with the lower class and the Basque and Catalan regions.1 The RRP experienced not much better, as they failed to appeal to the middle class and once again, an election was called and a new party rose, a culmination of left-wingers, the Frente Popular2. They were not welcomed since they had taken the streets on election day and rigged the ballots. After this, the country rapidly descended into anarchy, as the widely divided people and parties started to form coalitions to take control of Spain. The outright division between the people and the governments into the Nationalist (right wing) and Republicans (left wing) descending into civil war. The short term effect of the poor political decisions by the rapidly changing governments led to a clear segregation between classes, paving a path for coalitions to fight the Civil War.
 Although some may argue that the sole reason for the Civil War was due to the short term effect of the murder of Right-wing political leader Jose Calvo Sotelo. After the Frente Popular came to power, their police sent squads to arrest certain political oppositions. When going to arrest Calvo Sotelo, they instead shoot him in the back of the neck1. Such a rash action on the side of the Republicans led to massive reprisals and reactions among other right winged groups. Such an event was a perfect catalyst for a publicly justified coup, and almost undoubtedly, according to Preston Paul, was the sole reason for the uprisings in Spanish held Morocco, marking the beginning of the Civil war6. Although Preston Paul did determine the event which justified the start of the Civil War, he didn’t consider the causes of the event, or any of the prior events which led to the separation of the people of Spain, allowing there to be a Civil War. Helen Graham argues that polarity within Spain was the sole cause of Civil war; and agrees with this essay that without financial and social turmoil, there would not be any reason for there to be “two Spains” as Helen states, which confront each other in 19363. The idea that the murder of Calvo Sotelo was what accelerated Spains Civil War is no stranger; but to say that the Spanish Civil War was improbable without the murder of Sotelo completely ignores the rising tension within the country thanks to the depression and constant change in the Spanish Governance and their policies. It is an undeniable fact that the reasons for which the Civil War had occurred were primarily due to the Political and Finical unrest.
To return to the question, both the Long term effect of financial hardship on account of the depression, and the short term effects of the constant political unrest both contributed to the social polarity within Spain, hence bringing about “two Spains” and the contrasting idea in how their country should be ruled. Such forced the hand of political leaders to convene and revolt against the opposing parties, as the end of July 1936 marked the beginning of a 3-year long violent and bloody war preluding the second World War.
RRP- Radical Repulican Party
CEDA- Confederación Española de Derechas Autónomas   CEDA English-Spanish Confederation of Autonomous Rights
1.Wikipedia. “Spanish Civil War,” December 5, 2022.
2.The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. “Spanish Civil War | Definition, Causes, Summary, & Facts.” In Encyclopædia Britannica, January 31, 2019.
3. Graham, Helen. The Spanish Civil War : A Very Short Introduction. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
4.Mann, Michael. Fascists. Cambridge University Press, 2004, p. 316 5.Wikipedia Contributors. “CEDA.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation,
December 17, 2019.
6.Preston, Paul, and Paul 1946- Preston. The Spanish Civil War : Reaction, Revolution and Revenge. New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 2007.

 Long Term and Short Term Causes of The Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil War between the years 1936 and 1939 was one of the most brutal civil wars in history, between the Nationalists, the army and the upper-classes, and Republicans, the lower and middle-classes, with a number of approximately 500,000 lives lost. People wondered what could have led to such a brutal civil war, whether it was the occurrence of specific events such as “The Popular Front” or if there were other long term causes as well that made the war inevitable by the time it happened. In his book “The Battle for Spain'', Antony Beevor raised the question “Was there ever a people whose leaders were as truly their enemies as this one?” coming up with the conclusion that it was the leaders of Spain that allowed such destruction to be brought upon their own country. In this essay, I will support Antony Beevor’s argument by investigating the long and short term causes of The Spanish Civil War.
The Spanish Civil War was the result of many long term causes leading the country into division and chaos. Throughout the 19th century until the civil war, Spain dealt with poverty due to an agriculturally based economy supported by Goerge Orwell’s description, “The ordinary class-division of society had disappeared to an extent that is almost unthinkable in the money — tainted air of England; there was no one there except the peasants and ourselves, and no one owned anyone else as his master.”. More than half of the population being peasants and uneducated created an enormous gap between the upper and lower classes. This extreme lack of economical balance within Spain sparked hatred between the two classes as the division it caused left no possibility for mutual empathy or respect that the two sides should have treated each other with. This supports the idea that the Nationalists were too satisfied with their positions of power and wealth that they were selfish enough to disregard the poverty the rest of the country was drowning in. They found it unacceptable to replace conservative elements of the government because it wasn’t going to benefit them like it would the Republicans. Thus with clearly being more powerful than the Republicans, the 1930’s Depression the economic imbalance made way to, became a huge threat to The Republic as they faced losing the support of the working class, motivating the Nationalists to rebel against The Republic as it showed signs of instability. Referring back to Antony Beevor’s argument, the leaders of Spain had differing views on what action to take even though they were responsible for the economic collapse of the country after the failed attempt for the Industrial Revolution. Beevor further argues that “The Spanish Civil War has so often been portrayed as a clash between left and right, but this is a misleading simplification. Two other axes of conflict emerged: state centralism against regional independence and authoritarianism against the freedom of the individual.” This argument was valid and supported as the role that regions played in the causes of The Spanish Civil War was too large to disregard. There was great tension between the centralist state and Catalonia and the Basque regions with both provinces searching for independence and decentralization, having their own languages, economies, cultures and churches. When Primo de Rivera took back the self-governing rights of Catalonia, separatist forces began supporting the Republican movement that replaced Alfonso XIII, the King of Spain, in 1931. Their support
 upset the Nationalists because Alfonso was closely associated with the military, occasionally introducing himself as the ‘soldier-king’. This became a motive for the Nationalists to rebel against the Republic and punish the Catalans which they did achieve after Franco gained control over Spain.
However, these reasons are too simplistic to unleash the country into such bloody chaos. There were two other long term causes that led to the war; The army and The Catholic Church. The Catholic Church, due to its wealth, was able to gain influence over the population and therefore became a major power that allied with the Nationalists. Due to their control over the education and other public life elements, Republicans had already begun disliking The Catholic Church and had made attempts at removing their influence that injected opposing views towards modernization and libreal forces. Additionally, the upper-classes funded The Church so that they could continue to spread religious beliefs that restricted the people’s freedom of choice over their own lives in a means of securing their positions of power and thus having easy access to reaching their goal of overthrowing the Republic with the use of manipulation. The Catholic Church, therefore, allied itself with the Nationalists due to the endless support they received from aristocrats and the Nationalists began taking advantage of the widespread influence their new allies had in order to gain more allies. When it became clear that The Church was supporting the upper-classes, lower-classes’ resentment increased. It led to protests that caused more hostility between the two groups. The Spanish Army, on the other hand, was politically powerful due to their association with Alfonso XIII, although proved themselves ineffective on the battlefield with the Loss of the Spanish Empire in the 19th century. This was an ironic situation as it was proved in many instances, for example the Ottoman Army’s involvement with the Empire’s politics leading to the 31 March Incident in April 1909, a political crisis that became one of the reasons for the Empire’s downfall, that an army’s involvement with politics always resulted in negative outcomes. The Republic, due to this very reason, were bothered by their involvement and wanted to remove The Spanish Army from politics. This aggravated the army who already had a reputation for being cruel and savage, and because they were traditional and possessed conservative beliefs due to their faith towards the Catholic Church, they found it beneficial to take a stand with the Nationalists. The size of the army was a huge advantage that the Nationalists had gained through this alliance, a large number of people joining Franco. The Catholic Church and the Spanish Army both led to the formation of the two groups, once again supporting Beevor’s argument with the Church being Spain’s religious leaders and the army’s association with the King of Spain, Alfonso.
Although, the real trigger that set the civil war into motion was one of the short term causes, political polarization. Between the years 1931 and 1936, the population was divided due to the long term issues. Extremists admitted that they believed that war was the only solution to solve Spain’s problems. Thus this foreshadowed the brutal civil war as there was now a portion of the Spanish people with an undeniable thirst for bloodshed. After Alfonso’s resignation, The Left Republic came to power in April 1931 until November 1933. They shared the views of the Republicans and made an attempt at modernizing Spain. Manuel Azana became president and took action to fix the long term issues that had been causing issues within the country such as restricting the Church’s power and taking an anti-army approach by closing down military
 academies. Every choice that the Left Republic made was viewed as an attack towards the Right Wing even though it can be deduced that they did not intentionally attack the Nationalists but were making a genuine effort to support the lower-class people of Spain to rescue the country from its initial state at the time. From 1933 to 1936, however, the Right Republic took over and led the country in an exactly opposite direction than the way that the Left Republic had begun taking it. The hostility of Right Republicans and the violence behind the decisions they took was revealed quickly when the largest party CEDA turned into ‘a group of war ministers’. These two years were branded as the ‘black years’ due to the systematic reversal that occurred, the Church once again gaining authority over the country, and Catalonia being stripped away from its independence despite how much they tried to resist. This was a backwards step for the modernization of Spain, however it ensured the satisfaction of the upper-class Nationalists. But, in 1936, one of the main triggers for the Spanish Civil War, the Popular Front emerged, a party including a large number of Republicans. The Popular Front was also viewed as the ‘last stand to achieve peace’ within the country or ‘extreme communism’ by following the footsteps of Stalin’s policy in 1935. This angered the Nationalists and the army immediately began planning a coup. This clearly led the country to disaster as the only way the Republicans and the Nationalists interacted with each other was through violent attacks. With all the leaders of each party failing to create a stable government, their actions caused the people to believe that war was the only option they were left with in order to achieve what they wanted.
In conclusion, Beevor makes a valid argument by blaming the leaders of Spain for the causes of the Spanish Civil War. The economic crisis in Spain during the 19th century and the role of regions creating a base for the civil war and later on the increase in tension with the army and the Catholic Church’s made the war inevitable and even motivated the Nationalists to the extent that they did not just think it necessary to rebel against the Republic but also desired the violence it brought forth. The use of manipulation by powerful allies such as the Church and the tension between the two parties indeed carved a path that led to a civil war that was unavoidable.


 When thinking about major armed conflicts after the Second World War, few were as infamous as the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s for the humanitarian crisis that was marked with genocide, ethnic cleansing and war crimes. Despite 30 years passing by since the last shot was fired, the tensions between the former Yugoslav Republics are as high as ever and many see a repeat of the brutal history which occurred after the collapse of the communist regime. For many foreigners the perception of the war has been wrongfully depicted as a struggle between communism and democracy, just another proxy war between the great powers that occurred as the collapse of the Soviet Union and the entire Eastern Bloc was in full swing. However, for anyone familiar with the history of Yugoslavia and the Balkans, it is never so simple, which was the case in the 1990s. In the former Republic of Yugoslavia the ethnic tensions between the 5 nationalities that had comprised it would boil over in spectacular fashion and the idea of unity through brotherhood that Tito had worked so hard to maintain during the 2nd half of the 20th century, would be torn to shreds by hatred. Following Tito’s death on May 4th 1980, corruption and propaganda would poison the Yugoslav people during the ladder part of the 1980s which laid the seeds of war into the increasingly nationalistic former Republics. Economical discrepancies between the lagging southern Republics and prospering Slovenia and Croatia would furthermore divide the nations to a point where the brewing ethnic hatred would be too much to eradicate and a war became inevitable. The Slovenian and Croatian declaration of independence on the same day of 25th June 1991 on a short-term scale would cause the breakup of Yugoslavia to accelerate, however this essay will argue that long before the first blood was drawn, the road to war laid open.

As aforementioned, the death of Tito in 1980 is often viewed as the beginning of the end for Yugoslavia. The once great ethnic tensions after the horrific genocides of the Ustashe, collaborators of the Nazis during WW2, were largely kept at bay by Tito as his policy of ‘Brotherhood and Unity’ was promoted among the 6 Republics and any type of nationalism was suppressed, often by force. Unfortunately, following his death Yugoslavia’s economy took a turn for the worse which led to exploitation of the more economically developed Republics of Slovenia and Croatia by the weaker south. Among all of the former Republics, growing nationalism and disunity led to ethnic tensions rising to levels that were unheard of after the Second World War. In 1986 Slobodan Milosevic, a Serbian ultra-nationalistic, became leader of the Serbian branch of the communist party and slowly began to secure a sort of ‘veto’ power in the government. Serbia under him was able to achieve this, because they had already had 3 out of the 8 chairs in the leading political party, the League of Communists of Yugoslavia, as Serbia was composed of 2 autonomous regions that had equal voting rights as each of the 6 Republic’s. Fearing that the autonomous provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina would not support his politics of nationalism and expansionist ideas and concepts, such as his dream of ‘Greater Serbia’, his party began to dwell unrest and organize protests in the autonomous regions, which became known as the ‘Rallies of Truth’. The large protests and public unrest managed to overthrow the party leaders of Kosovo and Vojvodina, which were replaced with Milosevic’s sympathizers. On top of that, the Republic of Montenegro began to draw closer ties with Serbia and not long after securing the autonomous regions party leaders in 1986, a well known collaborator of Milosevic came to power in Montenegro. With 4 out of the 8 votes in the leading political party Serbia had effectively created a Voting Bloc, Milosevic now had ‘veto’ power and  was able to economically exploit other Republics, namely Croatia and Slovenia, by refusing laws that proposed changes in the electoral and economical systems. These actions were openly criticized by Croatia and Slovenia with both of them reprimanding the various political and economical schemes that Milosevic had drawn up in order to secure Serbian domination in Yugoslavia. After securing political superiority in the nation, Milosevic and his party in the years leading up to the Yugoslav wars were able to ensure the absolute support of the military, the YNA (Yugoslav National Army), by continuously placing Serbs into positions of high authority and by demoting or all out forcing other nationalities out of the army. This resulted in the YNA being effectively a Serbian puppet army during the Yugoslav wars, however despite the Serbian plan to achieve numerical superiority in their war of aggression, the other Republics had seen through their lies and long before drawn up plans to create National guards and import foreign weaponry which equalized the playing field. The schemes by Milosevic would earn him reprimand from other Republics as they had now fully believed that Yugoslavia was not worth saving and that independence was imminent. Events such as these would further the disunity among the Republics, as nationalistic propaganda was being printed out in full swing among all nations and ethnic tensions were rapidly rising which would boil over in spectacular fashion in 1991.

In this case of Yugoslavia the saying that ‘Wars frequently begin 10 years before the first shot is fired’ seems horrifyingly accurate as following Tito’s death, a chain reaction of economic recession and shady political schemes by right wing groups caused brewing ethnic hatred among the once united nations. Therefore, when on 25th of June 1991, Croatia and Slovenia declared independence which sparked the beginning of the Yugoslav wars, not many former Yugoslavs were surprised as a feeling of inevitability filled the air. As previously mentioned, the former Republics while being part of Yugoslavia had created National armies and guards that had years to prepare for the defense against the ensuing aggression by YNA. Under the pretext of brutal oppression of Serbs in Serb majority areas in Slovenia and Croatia, Serbia and the YNA were able to ‘justify’ their war of aggression to their people as a defensive war against Croatian Ustashe. A similar ploy of Bosnian Muslims collaborating with Ustashe and ethnically cleansing Serb majority areas would be used in 1992 when Bosnia had used the Croatian war and the Slovenian ‘10 day war’ to declare their own independence. With nationalistic propaganda being fed to the people by both sides by 1992, little could have been done to stop what would come next which was one of the most gruesome, horrific genocidal wars of the 20th century, that would for Kosovo spill into the 21st century.

As we can see, it is a culmination of things that caused the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the brutal civil war that ensued. On a long term scale, the death of a great leader who was able to minimize the ethnic tensions as well as an economic crisis that led to increase in nationalism caused the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s. A few greedy extremist leaders were able to exploit their ‘Brother’ nations, all for the benefit of their own country, Serbia, and had caused such ethnic disunity that would lay the foundation for a bloody conflict. On a short term scale, it was the sudden, but indeed inevitable declaration of independence of Slovenia and Croatia, and  later Bosnia, which prompted Serbia to push propaganda of lies, deception and nationalism to its people under the pretext that has been used countless times to ‘justify’ wars. However, despite the events of 1991 and 1992 that had sparked the outbreak of war, it is safe to say that truly the Yugoslav wars had started 10 years prior to the first shot being fired. It is important for historians and diplomats to be educated on such a controversial and polarizing topic as the horror of the Yugoslav wars should be a constant reminder to stick to diplomacy or in the worst case scenario, act beseechingly and with a sense of urgency to prevent another armed conflict in the Balkans. As the Australian PM said during the Kosovo war of the 1998 ‘’History has told you that if you stand by and do nothing, you pay a much greater price later on’’ which greatly portray the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s and what must be done if the unresolved conflicts, still simmering from 30 years ago, ignite a bloody war.

 Examine the long and short-term causes of one 20th-century war.
Pakistan gained independence on August 14th 1947. Pakistan constituted East and West Pakistan. However, in a brief period of 24 years, a civil war started between East and West Pakistan. The Bengali nationalists initiated this civil war to gain freedom from Pakistan. This essay examines the long-term causes of this war namely, political misrepresentation, economic exploitation and the linked short-term cause, the six-point demand made by the Awami League and the genocide of the Bengali people.
East Pakistan was poorly represented in the central government of Pakistan thus triggering political protests leading to the civil war on March 26 1971. From the independence of Pakistan on August 14th, 1947 to 1958 Pakistan was ruled by four different governor generals culminating in a coup d’ etat in October 1958 led by General Ayub Khan. This coup resulted in military rule for the next 13 years. The early unstable government in Pakistan and the military dictatorship resulted in a concentration of power in West Pakistan. This concentration of power led to an unequal representation of East Pakistan, leading to the civil war as evidenced by the fact that out of the 6 governors of East Pakistan only 1 was of Bengali origin. Secondly in a move to further concentrate power in West Pakistan, the army was mainly based out of West Pakistan. This is evident in the fact that West Pakistan had 25 times more military personnel compared to East Pakistan. Thirdly, this can also be seen when Y. Khan on March 3rd, 1971 dismissed the victory of the Awami League (East Pakistan Party) despite an election result with a majority of 160 seats out of 300 seats. This resulted in the breakdown of political relationships and a lack of trust between the representatives of East and West Pakistan resulting in the call for a civil disobedience movement against the central government by the Awami league. Thus the absence of political representation of the Bengalis in the government of a unified Pakistan resulted in simmering anger in East Pakistan against the government’s political leadership igniting the sparks of the Bangladesh Liberation War.
East Pakistan was not only poorly represented by the central government of Pakistan but also economically exploited. This economic exploitation led to growing discontent with the government and resulted in protests leading to the civil war. The evidence of economic exploitation leading to the civil war can be seen in the following economic indicators, firstly East Pakistan had a higher population than West Pakistan however they received only 25% of the national budget, despite generating 62% of the national revenue. The financial distress of East Pakistan is particularly visible when we note the growth in per capita income for both countries. In 1959-1960 West Pakistan had 32% higher per capita income than East Pakistan and in 1969-1970 West Pakistan had 61% higher per capita income. The national revenue budget proportions and per capita income growth show that West Pakistan prospered at the expense of East Pakistan. Another instance where we see economic bias is the inadequate flood relief funds released by the central government to alleviate the devastation caused by flood Bhola in 1971. The total amount released was 86 crore Pakistani rupees ( 180,000 USD at the 1971 exchange rate). The insufficient flood relief support and anti-East Pakistan economic bias resulted in poor living standards and meagre job opportunities, consequently, the country was
 financially deprived and underdeveloped, giving rise to festering resentment against the central government of Pakistan.
The economic and political exploitation of East Pakistan crystallized in the form of the first political resistance movement against the central government of Pakistan. This political movement consolidated into the six-point demand insisting on the sovereignty of East Pakistan. The rejection of the six-point demand led to a civil war in 1971. The six-point demand sought to establish Pakistan as a federal state, maintain a self-raised army and manage its economic resources. The political resistance movement for the six demand points was met by the central government with imprisonment of the opposition. The Awami League leadership, especially Rahaman and other civilian leaders were charged with sedition. This was known as the Agartala conspiracy case. These arrests unleashed the anger of the people of East Pakistan and convinced them that the central government was against the people of East Pakistan and the Awami league. The six-point movement was a critical turning point in history. Even though the six-point demand was initially rejected by the government of Pakistan, it became the core philosophy of the Awami league’s campaign against the central government. Thus the six-point demand became a rallying point to start the resistance movement and fight for Bengali freedom and independence.
Operation Searchlight was the proverbial last straw before the launch of the civil war against the central government of Pakistan. Codenamed Operation Searchlight was planned genocide conducted by the military of the central government of Pakistan, launched on the 25th of march 1971. This genocide led to the massacre of about 3 million Bengalis. The killing of the people of Bengali ethnicity executed by the West Pakistan military led to a strong resistance movement against the central government of Pakistan. General Y. Khan had planned the genocide to make an example of the Bengali nationalists for their demands against the central government. The genocide caused terror in the Bengali people and gave them the determination to fight for their independence. Operation searchlight caused the Bengali people to fight back against the Pakistani. The Bengali nationalists made a novice fighting force called the Mukti Bahini. The Awami league declared the Bengali people independent from the central government in a place called Mujibnagar. This event leads to the declaration of Bangladesh as an independent state.
In conclusion, we can see that the political misrepresentation led to economic bias against the East. The political leadership of East Pakistan responded by launching a six-point movement demand for freedom. This was met by violent suppression by the central Pakistani government leading to the civil war and overthrow of the central government of Pakistan, resulting in the formation of present-day Bangladesh.

Examine the long- and short-term causes of one 20th-century war: World War 1
The first World War was a catastrophe that brought forth the horrors of the 20th century. With mass destruction, 20 million deaths, and 21 million wounded, the people of 1918 scrambled to fathom how they could have ever 'sleepwalked' into such a war. Since the start of World War 1, the debate over why it happened has spawned an unprecedented size of historical literature. Now, 108 years later, examining the causes of the first World War is still relevant because it conveys what geopolitical situations we must avoid for future peace. Sidney Bradshaw Fay reflects the revisionist view, stating that “imperialism, nationalism, militarism, and alliances... meshed together to cause a collective impetus for war”. In this essay, the extent to which Europe's nationalism, militarism, and alliance systems catalysed World War 1 will be examined. Ultimately, drawing the conclusion that the nationalism in Austria-Hungary, and Serbia was the largest contributor to the war. On the other hand, this essay will argue that the significance of alliances has been overexaggerated as a cause of World War 1. Regarding the short-term causes of the war, this essay will be analysing the July Crisis. As a consequence, concluding that poor leadership, and communication during this time were the most influential short-term causes of World War I.
It is unlikely that the alliance systems of Europe were one of the long-term causes of the First World War. Nevertheless, Sidney Bradshaw Fay's notion of alliances may hold merit. When looking at a map of alliances in 1887, one can see a web of alliances that balanced out the power, tensions, and interests in Europe. Nevertheless, when compared to a map of 1907, the alliance system has clearly shifted into two distinct groups: On one hand, the Triple Alliance between Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Italy. On the other hand, the Triple Entente between France, Russia, and Britain. This split into two groups was imperative for the time, as it likely channelled the antagonistic relations between them that catalysed war. From the German geographical perspective of 1907, Germany was flanked on three fronts by the Triple Entente. Along with encirclement, Germany was alarmed by the balance of power tipping decisively in favour of the Triple Entente. Hence, Germany arguably wanted to fight a war while it was still strong enough to win. Conversely, from the French viewpoint, the Triple Entente, and specifically the diplomatic cooperation between itself and England intensified its political ideas of revanchism by balancing out the power between itself and Germany. Therefore, contributing to the start of World War One. Nevertheless, the significance of the alliance system is likely
 exaggerated. If the alliance system had had such a prominent role in causing World War I, one must ask why the war was catalysed by the Austria-Serbian conflicts. Why was it not started by the powers rivalled against each other by alliances? The British historian, A.J.P Taylor suggests that the alliances were too fragile to catalyse the war. Italy was only an extreme example of this, as it promised military support to Germany whilst also seeking a Mediterranean agreement with France and Britain. In France, the alliance with Russia became increasingly unpopular – predominantly because the ideologies of the two countries did not align. Moreover, the alliances were merely defensive. Russia was not obligated to defend Serbia in July 1914. This is also applicable to Britain. Although Britain joined the war in August 1914, it was not necessarily because of the Triple Entente. Instead, it joined the war to honour the Treaty of London with Belgium from 1839. Thus, these points conclude that the alliances are too fragile to be regarded as a major cause of the First World War. Overall, although the alliance systems certainly influenced the start of the war, they did not cause it.
On the other hand, the nationalism of the European nations, and especially that of Austria-Hungary and Serbia, was arguably the largest long-term cause of World War One. The principle of Pan-Slavism can be defined as national unity among the Slav people in the Balkan regions. In 1908, the ideology of Pan-Slavism was profound in Serbia and precipitated great hostility and aggression towards Austria-Hungary. In 1908, Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia-Herzegovina. Serbia believed it had the right over Bosnia-Herzegovina's territory since 40% of its population was Serbian. Ultimately, leading to the Balkan Crisis of 1908 which encompassed the desire for territorial expansion and was fuelled by nationalism. The Bosnian Crisis was significant because it marked the nationalistic enmity throughout the Balkan region, and furthered austrophobia in Russia, and Serbia. Thus, making World War 1 inevitable as opposition in the Balkan region grew. In Austria-Hungary, General Conrad von Hötzendorf counselled for war against Serbia no less than 25 times throughout 1913-1914 as a result of Darwinian nationalism. In Russia, the government launched a programme of military investment that was so substantial it triggered a European arms race so that it could endorse Pan-Slavism. The Germans, on the other hand, rallied energetically to Austria-Hungary's support whilst also increasing military expenditure by 73% to facilitate nationalism among its people. All of these factors were important because they fuelled patriotism, and animosity throughout Europe. In the context of 1914, the build-up of antagonism triggered Austria-Hungary's declaration of war against Serbia after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Furthermore, nationalism did not only triumph in Eastern Europe. An idea of militaristic, economic, and cultural supremacy
 was also present throughout France, Britain, and Germany. Thus, precipitating a fissure between nations in the critical moments of the July Crisis. As such, displaying that nationalism directly resulted in World War 1 by channelling hostility throughout Europe.
When looking at the short-term causes of World War 1, the poor leadership and insufficient communication of European powers during the July Crisis is arguably the main contributor. The assassination of the Archduke offset a series of war declarations. However, as stated by H.G. Wells in 1914, some of the European public believed that World War 1 would be the war to “end all wars”. One may argue that it wasn't poor leadership that caused World War I, but that the war was welcomed by Europe's leaders and the public. For example, the Black Hand was a Serbian military group with hundreds of followers that encouraged war with Austria-Hungary. Nevertheless, this argument is too simplistic. As described by Sidney Bradshaw Fay, “a peaceable, sensible mass of 500 million was hounded into a war by a dozen incapable leaders”. The powers of Europe mistakenly expected the war to end quickly and were, therefore, under great pressure to mobilise. On one hand, Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany issued a Blank Cheque to Austria-Hungary on July 5th, 1914 issuing its full support for Austria. The Kaiser failed to recognise the significant 'domino effect' of his actions: Where Austria would declare war, and Russia would follow in pursuit. Nevertheless, Kaiser Wilhelm's poor leadership was not an isolated incident. His ineptitude was also demonstrated in the First and Second Moroccan Crisis in which he strengthened the Entente Cordial, and destroyed Germany's relationship with Britain and France. From the Russian perspective, Russia's leader; Tsar Nicholas, mistakenly assumed that Germany would not intervene in Balkan affairs once declaring war on Austria-Hungary. This misconception was critical because it involved two major powers in the war. From the British viewpoint, Britain hoped that the war would resolve itself. Nevertheless, Britain then declared war on Germany in August 1914 to honour the Treaty of London. Henceforth, the inadequate communication between Europe's leaders arguably caused the First World War, as they disregarded the seriousness of the July Crisis and their own actions. As emphasised by these examples, Europe's leaders did not have a holistic view of its interconnections. This was likely due to inadequate communication between leaders. In 1914, messages could only be sent through telegraphs that could take days, weeks, or months to send. If Austria-Hungary, Serbia, and their allies had made a distinct effort to communicate in the July Crisis, they may have recognised the catastrophic implications of war and could have stopped the outbreak of the First World War. To conclude, inadequate communication, and poor leadership during the July Crisis is the main short-term cause of the outbreak of World War I.
 In conclusion, World War 1 is the key event in Europe that destroyed nations, caused the rise of Hitler, and led to Soviet Communism later on in the 20th century. Examining the causes of World War 1 is still a relevant topic today because it had such an impactful consequence on Europe and the World. Along with imperialism, militarism, and nationalism, alliances are considered one of the long-term causes of World War 1. Although alliances had an influence on European nations, their impact on the outbreak of the War is exaggerated. On the other hand, nationalism, and specifically nationalism in the Balkan regions, is arguably the most impactful factor for the outbreak of World War 1. Lastly, the poor leadership and inadequate communication of leaders is the most predominant short-term cause of World War 1, as it had a deep effect on dealings throughout the July Crisis.

From the November 2022 Paper 2 IBDP History exam

Compare and contrast the short-term causes of two wars

Markscheme: The question requires that candidates give an account of the similarities and differences between the short-term causes of two wars referring to both throughout. There does not need to be an equal number of comparisons and contrasts. The wars may or may not be from the same region. Candidates may refer to the short-term causes of the First and Second World War with comparisons made between the role of Serbia and Poland and a contrast between the threat to imperial longevity in one and political ideology in the other. The impact of the failure to uphold agreements to hold elections may be compared as a short-term cause of the Korean and Vietnam Wars and a contrast between the role of the superpowers as instigators of conflict. Civil wars may also provide appropriate examples with comparisons and contrasts made between such factors as ideological or ethnic divisions, the threat of counter-revolution or foreign intervention.

Written under exam conditions from an excellent student:


The Spanish Civil War, often seen as "the dress rehearsal for World War II," and the Korean War, widely recognized as the "Pearl Harbor" of the Cold War, were significant historical conflicts. Despite being civil wars that left enduring impacts on subsequent world events, they significantly differ in their immediate causes. This essay argues that the Spanish Civil War's short-term causes encompassed the Great Depression, the left-wing government's reforms, and the assassination of José Calvo Sotelo, while the Korean War resulted from a shift in the power balance between East and West, heightened Korean nationalism, and the dictatorship of Syngman Rhee.

Primarily, the short-term causation of the Spanish Civil War lay in the Great Depression, the left-wing government's reforms, and the assassination of José Calvo Sotelo. The Great Depression played a vital role in creating instability. Spain, already a divided society and a shadow of its former empire in the 1920s, was further destabilized by this economic catastrophe. This global crisis brought about a severe devaluation of the Spanish peseta, leading to the collapse of Primo de Rivera's dictatorship, which had previously maintained stability and kept factional rivalries from escalating into open conflict.

The end of King Alfonso XIII's reign and the inauguration of the Second Spanish Republic in 1931 signaled the beginning of a period of uncertainty and upheaval. The conservative and monarchist factions' fears materialized in 1935 when the left-wing Popular Front coalition gained power, introducing drastic reforms. These included the separation of church and state, military downsizing, and the nationalization of church-owned estates. The implementation of such reforms incensed many Spaniards, particularly the military, who perceived them as a direct threat to their existence and started planning to overthrow the Republican government. This situation escalated in 1936 when socialist militiamen assassinated José Calvo Sotelo, a prominent conservative leader.

In contrast, the Korean War was precipitated in the short term by a shift in the power balance between East and West, the rise of Korean nationalism, and the dictatorship of Syngman Rhee in South Korea. A pivotal moment occurred when Stalin, buoyed by the power shift toward the Eastern Bloc, gave North Korean leader Kim Il-sung permission to invade South Korea. This shift was highlighted by Mao Zedong's ascension in China and the successful detonation of the Soviet Union's first nuclear weapon. Concurrently, South Korea was under Syngman Rhee's dictatorial control, characterized by economic stagnation, further exacerbating the situation.

Simultaneously, a potent sense of Korean nationalism permeated both North and South Korea, desiring reunification and prosperity. Kim Il-sung exploited this sentiment, seeking to unify Korea under the comparatively prosperous communist regime. These factors ultimately led to North Korea's invasion of the South.

In the analysis of these conflicts, certain similarities arise concerning their immediate causes. Both wars were heavily influenced by the economic conditions of their time – the Great Depression for Spain and North Korea's economic superiority for Korea. Additionally, government policies played critical roles, with Spain's left-wing reforms incensing conservatives and the military, and Syngman Rhee's dictatorial regime in South Korea facilitating North Korean ambitions for reunification through conflict.

In conclusion, while the Spanish Civil War and the Korean War were distinctive in their short-term causes, there are striking parallels. In Spain, the causes were predominantly internal, while in Korea, external factors, particularly the influence of Stalin's Soviet Union, played a more significant role. Despite the disparities, both conflicts highlight the profound influence of economic conditions and government policies on the outbreak of war.