Aikido as a Martial Art.
No disrespect, but why do I feel like we've had this discussion before? To say Aikido has no striking techniques is completely false. The concept of atemi is ALWAYS a part of Aikido. I don't know what style of Aikido you have witnessed, but the fact is that atemiwaza, or critical strikes, are necessary to all techniques of Aikido. We do not throw punches blindly, however, nor do we rely on sheer power to strike. Our intent, when we strike is not to "damage" the opponent per se, but rather to create an opening for our technique. So the statement "there are no practical striking techniques," is FALSE. We simply do not RELY on them to overpower an attacker. Brute force is never the Way.
Secondly, although what you term "real" matwork is rare, there are important pinning techniques which we use to subdue an opponent. The reason for a "lack" of grappling techniques is that Aikido concerns itself with multiple attackers. When you are grappling, you necessarily have to deal with only one opponent. What if you are accosted by several attackers? Are you going to grapple with one and hope that the others take turns?
You speak of Aikido's treatment of spiritual themes and harmony. This is not mere lip- service. They are fundamental in understanding Aikido techniques and principles. They are also a way of looking at life that does not rely on agression, but rather in acceptance and re- direction.
To an Aikidoka, their Art is meant to be used for self- defense, but it goes far beyond that into a way to become more than what we are. Why do you train? To compete? That's a laudable goal, but is competition the be- all, end- all of your training? Aikido gives you pure training, and self discipline; you compete against yourself. Do you train to become a bad- ass? That's fine, until someone better comes along, and beats the living crap out you. Remember, there's always someone better. I believe that those of us who regularly post here agree that it's not the Martial Art, it's the Martial Artist. A martial art is never more than the spirit and intent you put into it. Agression begets agression. Perhaps that's why Aikido doesn't "work" for you?
From your post, it is unclear whether or not you have practiced aikido, but I'm sure all us would certainly welcome you to train at any Aikido dojo. I would certainly recommend at least trying it out. Then you could at least decide for yourself its effectiveness from firsthand experience. Who knows, you might end up liking it.