What kind of military does the Ferengi Alliance have? Because it seems the Ferengi were fairly aggressive and militaristic in early TNG, but by the DS9 era, they were total wimps and cowards.
In early TNG, a Ferengi ship stole Federation property in "The Last Outpost" and in "Peak Performance" a Ferengi ship attacked the Enterprise out of the blue. Also in early TNG, a Ferengi Marauders were supposed to be equal to most Federation Star ships, which one would assume would include fire power and defense.
However in "Magnificent Ferengi", Ferengi military history was presented as being pathetic, with no real military victories under their belt. In fact it seemed like no Ferengi had any real military experience. This seems to contradict some of the early TNG episodes, if the Ferengi had technology comparable to the Federation, surely they could have gone to a less developed world and taken some of their resources or forced them into an unfair treaty that benefited the Ferengi Alliance economically, similar to what the European colonial powers did in the 19th century.
Also it would make sense for the Ferengi to have some sort of military, even for just defensive purposes. Even if the Ferengi are not good fighters, there is no reason why they couldn't hire a horde mercenaries to fight their battles for them or build an army of robots, similar to what the Trade Federation did in the Star Wars Universe. Now if the Ferengi Alliance didn't want to hire mercenaries or make robots, you think they could hire outsiders to train Ferengi to be better fighters. Without a military, you almost have to wonder why the Ferengi have never been victims of "gun boat diplomacy" with another more militaristic power coming along and demanding tribute from them.
So how does one explain this change in Ferengi military policy from early TNG to DS9?