Although the Council does allow for the possibility of a “decisive re-assertion of U.S. power,” the futurists seem pretty well convinced that America is, relatively speaking, on the decline and that China is on the ascent. In fact, the Council believes nation-states in general are losing their oomph, in favor of “megacities [that will] flourish and take the lead in confronting global challenges.” And we’re not necessarily talking New York or Beijing here; some of these megacities could be somehow “built from scratch.”
One of these ideas is new and the other is not. The idea that megacities will become more powerful is not a new idea as metropolitan regions have been recognized for their economic, political, and cultural power. (See the 2012 Global Cities Index.) Concurrent with the rise of megacities, particularly in developing nations, are concerns some have with the ability of nation-states to cope with new global issues. If you go further back, you find discussions of “megapolis” and how these combinations of large cities would come to dominate national and global life.
The other idea is newer: large cities “built from scratch.” The rate of urbanization in some countries over the last few decades has been fantastic. For example, Chinese cities have grown tremendously. In the Middle East, several cities have arisen out of deserts. Third World megacities like Lagos or Sao Paulo keep growing. While quick construction is more possible today (extra tall buildings constructed in 90 days!), I wonder how possible it is to move millions of people around to new cities and have some semblance of social order.