I was recently given an electronic copy of a very large collection of quotes and writings attributed to O'Sensei. Here's one that really seems to address the question.
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In the past, Martial Arts were mistakenly used to support the seemingly unending killing that characterized Japan's past. Aiki, on the other band, is to save human life. Put another way, Aiki is the way of preventing injury to others. Respect for human life is the way of Aiki, and this is why the "Ai" of "Aiki" is closely related to another Japanese word "Ai," which means "Love." It is because of this relationship, in fact, that I originally named my own way "Aikido." This also means that the "Aiki" mentioned by martial arts practitioners of old is fundamentally different in both content and form from what I refer to by "Aiki." I hope that everybody will think carefully about what I am saying here.
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