The Centauri are really a parallel of the Austro-Hungarian empire (or at least 18-19th century europe)
You're the first I've seen to suggest Austro-Hungary. I usually associated them with France by way of Italy, but yes, either way, 18th-19th Europe.
Anyway, colonial society in Battlestar Galactica is an obvious parallel for early 21st century America, so surely it can get off on the same excuse?
It doesn't make a bit of sense to me that you can praise Bab5 for its 1940s influences but criticize BSG for its contemporary influences, also, if Bab5 has a whiff of wartime, BSG has, very obviously, a whiff of the war on terror. There's a lot of BSG that likes to be thinly veiled allegory for the present day, after all.