The compliance issue is the only thing that really matters here; that's why I maintain that a good test for "martial" is whether you can make it work on someone who doesn't want it to work. There is a catch-22 here in that Aikido looks and feels much better when uke just goes with it completely. When you test each other things get more abrupt and rougher and sometimes techniques become unrecognizable.
I don't care much about atemi personally; I come from a dojo where we focus on it as much as possible without actually breaking out the pads and gloves, and my feeling is that if you want to actually be able to use atemi effectively, you need to break out the pads and gloves, which is going to be time taken from more important areas of training.
I believe competitive training is a martial cul-de-sac.
The "debate among the martial arts community" is for suckers. Any kind of martial arts training requires that you invest time, effort, and pure faith in what you are doing; obviously people outside of Aikido will be looking at it from significantly different cognitive frameworks. The fact that aikidoka are so critical of their own art is something I used to read as a great strength for people willing to stay in the art, before various folks decided we needed to change it to be more of a Kodokai Tai Chi.
FWIW a "ryu" does not require a soke.
I agree with you. What you said about people outside of Aikido looking at it from a different cognitive framework is what I was driving at in my original post. Take Karate for example, many styles of Karate toughen their fists through hand strengthening exercises such as punching wooden beams with rope wound around it or slapping rocks. Now if this was the criteria for what constitutes martial, then this would suit Karateka. Aikido does not pursue such exercises and would therefore by default fail this test.
There are many people who criticise Aikido because they are using a totally different framework of reference for what is martial. I don't think this is fair. Aikido develops the body and mind in a very different way to many martial arts, especially combat sports. This does not make it less "martial" only that it emphasises different aspects of what it means to be a martial art.