Unfortunately, this past November, the United States lost a great president. George H. Bush might have served only one term, there's no doubt that his presidency saw some of history's flashpoint moments. Bush oversaw the end of the Cold War and America's great military incursion since Vietnam (which was an absolute success too). Bush was one of our most experienced foreign policy presidents, having served more than most on the National Security Council.
Following the successful defeat of Iraqi forces in Kuwait, Bush made an important speech which would define U.S. foreign policy for the years to come. In that speech, he claimed that a "new world was coming into view," one that would define the way the globe worked. Bush called this the "New World Order." To some, this may seem like an ominous term associated with Illuminati conspiracy theories and hegemonic tendencies. However, Bush was pointing out the ability of the U.S. to spread new ideals across the globe.
At the point of this speech, the Soviet Union was clearly in disarray and on the brink of failure. The U.S. had successfully launched an international coalition and won the Cold War all in one! To Bush, this meant that the U.S. had not only an opportunity, but a duty to spread liberal ideals across the globe. He states in the speech: "there is the very real prospect of a new world order. In the words of Winston Churchill, a 'world order" in which "the principles of justice and fair play ... protect the weak against the strong ...' A world where the United Nations, freed from cold war stalemate, is poised to fulfill the historic vision of its founders. A world in which freedom and respect for human rights find a home among all nations."
The New World Order was not about U.S. domination over the world. It was about instituting a liberal world order that would promote peace, unity, and morality. From Clinton to Obama, this view of foreign policy defined American Foreign policy. Today, many argue that Trump has decried this view and claim that Trump marks the end of this "New World Order." Whether or not the "New World Order" has been a successful foreign policy or the President has done away with it is certainly up for debate. However, it is important to understand where some of our foreign policy views come from.
The idea of this order is clearly based on the fundamental ideas of a liberal foreign policy. There is a clear goal of improving foreign cooperation and standing up for human rights (two pillars of classic liberal foreign policy). Furthermore, the idea of protecting the weak denotes the hawkish part of liberal foreign policy. Bush's rationale for going into Kuwait was because of liberal self-determination and the fact that a country has a right to its own sovereignty. Of course, there were ulterior policy goals involved, but this is the reasoning he used to support his arguments. To Bush, the world was now in the hands of the U.S. to shape, and the "New World Order" was his to define.