As most stable and successful societies appear to be democracies with market economies and respect for human rights, many assume, the ideal ingredients for mediating lasting peace should include elections, democratic institutions, human rights prescriptions and the establishment of a market economy. Alas, some of today’s most intractable conflicts refuse to fit this pattern. This paper challenges current wisdom by juxtaposing both liberal and pragmatic mediation strategies. It argues for a more selective and flexible, and ultimately more honest, approach to peace, one that accepts the limits of the liberal peace.