The Second Lebanon War was a failure, said former prime minister Ehud Barak on Thursday, adding that Israel was, nevertheless, "still the strongest country that lies between Libya and Iran." "When the dust clouds settle after the Winograd Committee's conclusions... one lesson will be learnt: In the state of Israel, there is no substitute for experience," Barak continued during a speech he delivered at a Haifa school. The former prime minister went on to say that there was no doubt that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and former chief of staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz were talented individuals with good intentions but "what happened during the war proves that more experience is needed." In response, associates of Peretz blamed Barak for the strengthening of Hizbullah. "The man who took the IDF out of Lebanon in a unilateral retreat and without any agreement involving an international force, is the one responsible for turning a blind eye," Army Radio quoted the associate as saying.