What 1990s did you live through? It was the end of the Cold War, and an era of (relative) peace, except for the occasional act of terrorism.
And the war did not even start until the end of season 5, so I don't think it's likely it would have ended in season 3 without the war.
Deep Space 9 was building to some type of military conflict before season 5 started. in fact, it start with building a military conflict during the pilot. deep Space 9 was a very dark side of the federation. The federation in a area outside of the federation, as Bajor was not a member of the federation. In fact, Deep Space 9 started out to be in orbit around Bajor.
With DS9 being around the most stable wormhole and to the other side of the galaxy it was a very important military outpost. DS9, was not a federation space station, it was built by someone else and had secrets the federation did not know about.