Well, it looks like there are some happy endings in the 20th Century after all. Take a look at this article from the Huffington Post, about the declining fortunes it petro-states.
Unfortunately, the article buries what should be the lede. It lists a variety of reasons for this decline, instead of focusing on the reason (which it mentions only in passing): the rise of alternative energy. As Barack Obama's presidency comes to an end (and how I wish it wouldn't!), I have become convinced that, more than health care or financial reform, the single thing that people will remember him for the most is the revolution in alternative energy that he helped to launch, and grow, in a spectacularly major way.
For most of human history, economic fortunes have been dictated by control of natural resources. This has been especially true in the past hundred years, as technology has expanded exponentially, and the need for energy to support that technology along with it. This enabled a few nations that benefited from the random chance of sitting atop piles of potential fossil fuels to develop nations that had the seemingly limitless power to hold their own people and other nations hostage at will.
That's not possible in a world dependent on solar, wind, hydrogen, and biofuel power. When energy can effectively be created anywhere, any nation, people, or even person anywhere has the ability to profit off of its creation, and to create in the process wealth for themselves and for others. This has the potential to create an economic and political balance of power that the world has never seen.
That's the real take-away from the decline of petro-states. It may well lead to the decline of dictatorships and the rise of democracy everywhere. Let's hope so.