Exactly. Romulans never really demonstrated any wish to actually have war
- they only sought local victories and propaganda triumphs even with elaborate setups like "The Defector" or "Unification". Picard drawing, quartering and then eating both the Romulan infiltrators would not have been a propaganda triumph for Romulus; the sort of people the Romulans want to impress would not be impressed, except perhaps by Federation resolve.
OTOH, a display of weakness is something for the observer to decide; Starfleet would have no say on whether its actions contributed to one.