Honestly, it was a smart move. War with the Rommies was the last thing the federation needed.
In hindsight, the Federation adopting a more militant and less exploratory posture earlier could be a good thing. It took Wolf 359 before the Federation seemed to take defense seriously. A quasi war with the Cardassians would've ended in surrender instead of a peace treaty that only guaranteed the next war. The Federation would've been more ready for the Borg... and the Dominion.