Over the last decade there has been a shift towards critical understandings of ‘liberal peace’ approaches to international intervention, which argue that local culture holds the key to the effectiveness of peace interventions. In this ‘bottom-up’ approach, peace, reconciliation, and a ‘culture of law’ then become secondary effects of sociocultural norms and values. However, these liberal peace critiques have remained trapped in the paradox of liberal peace: the inability to go beyond the binaries of liberal universalism and cultural relativism. This understanding will be contrasted with the rise of ‘resilience’ approaches to intervention – which build on this attention to the particular context of application but move beyond this paradox through philosophical pragmatism and the focus on concrete social practices. This article clarifies the nature of this shift through the focus on the shifting understanding of international intervention to address the failings of the ‘war on drugs’ in the Americas.