Drawing on recent liberal peace and Asian security research, this article assesses the relevance of prominent ‘Kantian’ hypotheses for understanding the international politics of Asia. While there is some evidence that the dynamics of war and peace are different in Asia than in other parts of the world, this does not mean that liberal theories are irrelevant. There is at best weak support for the pacific effects of democracy or international institutions in Asia. But liberal expectations, and those of some Asia analysts, about the importance of economic interdependence for reducing conflict in Asia are robustly confirmed. This result obtains even with a control for the simultaneous trade-dampening effect of conflict using structural equations. But the strong intra-Asian effect of trade interdependence does not translate into a robust pacific effect between Asian states and those outside the region. A more nuanced picture emerges; the democratic peace appears most relevant for interactions between Asian states and the rest of the world. The findings show that analysts can rely neither on beliefs that Asia is sui generis nor on purely realist models as guides to Asian security issues. Kantian and realist theories are both relevant. The results also indicate that some common assumptions of analysts, especially regarding the importance of alliances and institutions, are not in accord with the regularities of conflict and peace in Asia.