This paper explores Afghan experiences of international engagement and intervention in the post-2001 period in Kunar and Helmand provinces. The paper proceeds in three parts. The first examines the role of customary authority and dispute resolution mechanisms in Afghanistan over the preceding decades, before turning to the post-2001 period. The second looks at the international intervention through the eyes of Afghans, exploring what they felt the problems and contradictions were in the international community (a phrase used here loosely to denote the international military, international organisations and donor-funded actors or initiatives) and Republic’s approach to bringing security and peace. The concluding section then further explores implications of the mismatch between the international community’s stated objectives, and the ultimate consequences for Afghans.