Visions of peace and the means of violence have been strategically joined at the very foundation of the international engagement in Afghanistan since 2001. The two forces have sustained each other – peacebuilding efforts have generated legitimacy and political support for the war – but the violence has also undercut efforts to create structures of peace and prosperity, thus hastening the international search for an exit. The contradictions between simultaneously waging war and building peace in Afghanistan were recognized too late, or not at all, in international peacebuilding circles. During the early phase of the intervention, in particular, the aid and rights communities were vocal advocates for a strong international military presence. The discourse on ‘security’ as a prerequisite for development and peace has continued to mask the underlying tensions in the security–peacebuilding nexus as they appear in Afghanistan's internationalized civil war.