Nobel judges faced howls of derision when they gave the Peace Prize to the European Union even as its unelected bosses force through savage spending cuts, wrecking economies and driving millions into poverty.
Critics called it "the sickest joke since US secretary of state Henry Kissinger won it in 1973 while overseeing the fascist coup in Chile and the secret bombing of Laos."
The Nobel committee said the EU had turned "a continent of war to a continent of peace."
But Stop the War Coalition convener Lindsey German couldn't believe it. "This is one of the biggest military organisations in the world," she said.
"It intervened in Afghanistan and interferes in the Middle East."
She noted that the committee had a habit of picking absurd recipients.
"Four years ago it was US President Barack Obama," she said, "now the EU.
"This is the elite of the world rewarding the rulers of the world who have brought us war, not peace."
Campaign Against Arms Trade also expressed surprise that the bloc had received the award, with five of the world's top 10 arms exporters being EU states.
Many of those weapons are sold to tyrannies including Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
Spokeswoman Kaye Stearman said the EU "had done nothing to limit or restrain" such sales by member states.
"It's a dubious decision in the circumstances," she said.
Democratic coalition No2EU chairman Bob Crow said awarding the prize to an organisation behaving like a colonial overlord in Greece, Spain, Portugal and elsewhere was "ludicrous and deeply cynical.
"EU austerity policies, which even the IMF is now baulking at, are causing mass unemployment, record suicide rates and permanent economic decline in order to shore up a dying currency - the euro," he charged.
And convener Brian Denny said that not only was the EU creating "an economic desert for millions of workers" but its claim to have preserved peace in Europe was highly suspect.
"EU institutions sparked the war in Yugoslavia in 1992," he recalled.
"John Major agreed to illegally recognise Croatia following massive German pressure in return for an opt-out of the euro."
Former Tory foreign secretary Malcolm Rifkind added to the farce by suggesting that the EU ought to share the peace prize with the Nato military alliance - which accounts for 70 per cent of world military spending and has bombed and invaded sovereign states including Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.
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