President George Bush first asked Tony Blair to support the removal of Saddam Hussein from power at a private White House dinner nine days after the terror attacks of 11 September, 2001.
According to Sir Christopher Meyer, the former British Ambassador to Washington, who was at the dinner when Blair became the first foreign leader to visit America after 11 September, Blair told Bush he should not get distracted from the war on terror's initial goal - dealing with the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
Bush, claims Meyer, replied by saying: 'I agree with you, Tony. We must deal with this first. But when we have dealt with Afghanistan, we must come back to Iraq.' Regime change was already US policy.
Really this only confirms what has long been thought. Blair himself said Bush would have invaded much earlier without Blair's constraining influence.
Big question for the Man of Steel - was he privy to this arrangement? He was in Washington on 11 September and saw Bush and other heavies the next day. Arguably Howard committed himself to the War on Terror while still in Washington and without consulting the cabinet or parliament.