Non-Resident Senior Fellow Professor Benjamin Reilly published an article in the Journal of Indo-Pacific Affairs.


The Indo-Pacific’s future is often depicted as a battleground between democracy and autocracy, reflecting a geopolitical struggle between visions of free and repressive world orders. Initiatives like the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue envision a "free and open" Indo-Pacific, assuming a deepening of democratic governance. This article explores the feasibility of such deepening within and among Indo-Pacific democracies in the near future. It assesses the current and prospective prevalence of democratic and autocratic regimes in the Indo-Pacific today and in the likely future, and the growing prevalence of “illiberal”, semi-democratic regimes in the region. Additionally, it examines the implications of a region split three ways between a mostly-democratic maritime East Asia, a mostly autocratic East Asian mainland, and a South Asia hovering between the two. The article concludes with a re-evaluation of the democratic peace theory—a cornerstone principle in international relations, but one which may need to be re-evaluated in the light of the regional trend towards illiberal democracy.