I assumed after the first couple of books it was going to be a refrence to a fall of the ideals of the federation - becoming increasingly militant, paranoid, untrusting and so forth. We only ended up getting a smidgen of that though.
Would never have been sustainable either, federation has to be built on hope, idic and so on, with people's struggles of aspiring to live up to that being the source of conflict.
Anyway, the andorian crisis is finally, finally, finally over, garak is the grand high spoon and exploration is top of the agenda for picard again, so even if the overall theme and ending were somewhat disappointing, at least things are set well for ongoing TNG books. Looking forward to seeing if "The Light Fantastic" might not just give the e-e a new second officer(has that role ever been filled since kadohata split?).