Yale Law Professor Amy Chua talked about her book, Day of Empire, which is about the rise and fall of hyperpowers. She cites that the practice of tolerance as a major contributing factor to the rise of a empire to the status of a hyperpower. Of course, the meaning and context of tolerance in the ancient times is very different from our present day concept. Using Roman Empire and Tang Dynasty as examples, tolerance is about valuing a person based on his skill and merit before his race and country of origin. The successful empire were also able to build an identity that the ruled were happy to adopt.
I think it is spot on. The current administration of USA has largely discarded this view and believed that they can subjugated other countries by mean of the military might. Iraq and Afghanistan have proved that Donald Rumsfield, Dick Cheney and other neo-con has learn the wrong lesson from history.
USA is still most qualified to be a hyperpower because of her diversity and the openness of her society. But it is not a given, especially in the light of growing xenophobia.
Just barely 8 years ago, USA is the country where everyone else looks up to. Who would have expected it?