Orthodox peacebuilding has largely failed to achieve too many of its objectives. Despite vast, complex and expensive interventions designed to discipline political behaviour in line with Liberal fiat, government elites routinely sidestep or manipulate transition mechanisms that sideline national populations in favour of metrocentric institution-building that fails the most basic audits when properly scrutinized from within. Although the reduction of the political to the technical has allowed orthodox peacebuilders to delude themselves that only the model needs retuning, as opposed to the premise on which it is based, it is clear that this paradigm has been sorely tested and found deeply lacking. Not least of the challenges to Liberal hubris is the irrelevance of many interventions to a substantial majority, whose everyday lives neither shape the peace nor are the subject thereof. In postponing their needs to chance, peacebuilding interventions miss a substantial opportunity to gird the legitimacy upon which a social contract depends. It is a fundamental aspect of Liberalism and yet it is not privileged in Liberal peacebuilding. Indeed, something is awry when legal tribunals of a handful of individuals carried out at vast expense in metropolitan centres take priority over the supply of basic needs for millions in rural hinterlands experiencing staggering rates of child and maternal mortality as a consequence of war and the violence of postconflict poverty. It is not to suggest the trials are wrong per se; but it is to suggest their privileging is a reflection of the distorted perspectives and preferences of a global ideology fundamentally out of touch with what peace can mean. Indeed, it is illusory and confusing to consider these interventions ‘Liberal’. Peacebuilding is not driven by the Liberalism valorized by EU democrats and North American ideologues who emphasize political rights, the separation of powers and various other laudable elements of this ideology. Nor would it be recognized as such by some of its founding forebears. The prevailing model of peacebuilding is closer to developmental authoritarianism, because it is driven by a rigid, ideological monoculture the hegemony of which precludes choice and limits participation on account of claims to superior knowledge. It deploys paternalistic policies that privilege the interests of a narrow global and local elite which demands that a majority of very poor people under their jurisdiction must wait until the benefits of ideological primacy and wisdom trickle down to them.