Bill Clinton Pushes 'Peace Park' at Korean Demilitarized Zone

DaimlerChrysler has pledged $500,000 to help former President Bill Clinton and Ted Turner build a “peace park” designed to “promote regional peace and stability” in the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea.

The pledge is part of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), which is a global program to fund projects that focus on such things as “religion, conflict and reconciliation.”

It is unclear how the park will inspire North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il, who is now poised to test a missile that can reach the United States, to embrace “peace and stability.”

The CGI revolves around an annual high-stakes networking conference. The first conference, held last September, secured more than 300 pledges valued at more than $2 billion to fund projects such as the peace park. Roughly 1,000 hand-picked corporate and non-profit CEO’s and government leaders are asked to participate in the conference and each make a “commitment” to one of Clinton’s causes: poverty alleviation, climate change, religious conflict and reconciliation, governance, enterprise and investment.

Most of the pledges Clinton raised in the first year, according to CGI’s annual report, are concentrated in two areas: alleviating world poverty, which raised $798,153,000, and climate change, which raised $657,408,000. “Religious reconciliation” took in 15% of the pledges, or $327,356,000.

Non-profits were the most generous donors, pledging $970,309,000. Corporations were second, giving $751,783,000, or 30%. Individuals and foundations gave a combined total of $146,882,000. Entities described as “governments” pledged $118,899,000.

The September meeting, which was held in New York City, has been compared to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. CGI’s website said the event was designed to “coincide with and complement” the Millennium conference at the opening of the UN General Assembly. Individuals become members at Clinton’s request and must pay a $15,000 fee to attend the conference.

Among the headliners at last year’s conference were: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D.-N.Y.), former Vice President Al Gore, Goldman Sachs CEO Hank Paulson, King Abdullah bin Al-Hussein and Queen Rania of Jordan and George Soros. Corporate sponsors included: Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Google, Nokia, Starbucks, Hewlett Packard and Microsoft.

Corporate spokesmen were hesitant to discuss their company’s involvement with CGI. A Goldman Sach’s spokesman refused to speak on the record about commitments Goldman Sachs made to CGI and would tell me only that their activities were being carried out independently of CGI. Starbucks only directed me to its website’s section on environmentalism when I asked specifically about the company’s commitment to Clinton’s group.