The article focuses on Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries’ experiences related to Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, three non-European theatres of Western military operations, in predominantly Muslim lands, in the decade between 2001 and 2011. CEE countries readily became involved in two of these foreign missions (Afghanistan and Iraq) because of their deep ties to Western politico-economic structures, without direct security interests compelling them to do so, but not without normative convictions regarding what were seen by them as virtues of the two missions. In Libya, however, they were reluctant to join the Western intervention. In light of this, the article is interested in examining how political elites within the region relate to the generally constrained security policy agency that they have. A key argument advanced is that such agency may be located in how external hegemony is mediated in elite discourses of threat and legitimacy construction. This as well as the three case studies outlined in the article show that the seeming changes in CEE countries’ behaviour in fact boil down to a simple set of rules guiding their behaviour. Having identified this “algorithm” as an implicit pattern of CEE foreign policy behaviour, originating in the intra-alliance security dilemma within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the article formulates its conclusions about the alliance policy of these countries largely within a neorealist framework.

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