Re: Political self-obsession and onanism
Venice built a great empire? With mercenary armies? You might want to read The Prince by Machiavelli, and compare that to the ironically named Erik Prince.
The fact is, they have no other attraction or reason for keeping the field than a trifle of stipend, which is not sufficient to make them willing to die for you. They are ready enough to be your soldiers whilst you do not make war, but if war comes they take themselves off or run from the foe; which I should have little trouble to prove, for the ruin of Italy has been caused by nothing else than by resting all her hopes for many years on mercenaries, and although they formerly made some display and appeared valiant amongst themselves, yet when the foreigners came they showed what they were.
Irregardless, you've misunderestimated how different it is to fight and die compared to fight and kill.