On another thread, in response to something I wrote, Joe Curran asked:
Well, to answer the question completely, I'd recommend my book, Dueling with Osensei.
But just off the top of my head (and these are all on record--documented--not just my opinions):
1. He was a supporter of idealistic fascism throughout his life--he opened his dojo to terrorists, and at Deguchi Onisaburo's behest, volunteered his services as a bodyguard to Hashimoto Kingoro when he was on a mission of assassination. (one bit of proof is actually in Anno and Holiday sensei's book - the treasured bokken that was broken in practice with Hikitsuchi sensei, was given to Ueshiba by Okawa Shumei - - a remarkable man, but one of the architects of WWII, political assassination, and the exploitation of Asia (Ueshiba maintained this friendship--calling Okawa sensei until his death in the late 1950's).
2. I do not argue in the slightest his ultimate goal of a world of peace, and that aiki is love. But he conflated this with himself as an avatar to make this possible, and at times, relegated others' practice as a kind of spiritual energy production so he could do the godlike work of unifying heaven and earth.
3. Stating he was beyond moral questions, he countenanced a number of behaviors amongst his followers that were not only considered immoral in the West, but Japan as well.
4. He worked at the Nakano Spy School, teaching people how to kill, and stopped, not because of his horror at the idea, but because his methods were not considered useful enough - -he was replaced by three Shotokan karate instructors, who tested blows on captives.
And no, I'm not going to go in to documenting each of these statements here. That's why I wrote my book (2nd edition release is spring of 2014).
My point is the same as I would make regarding Gandhi (who had some truly bizarre ideas on sexuality), on Martin Luther King (who was less than faithful), or Thomas Jefferson (a hypocrite on race). We actually have a better chance of appreciating and learning from great men and women when we see them as men-and-women, not gods. I believe Osensei's heartfelt statements--and the restructuring of his budo as a moral endeavor, came as a result of struggles with his own demons, not only his saintly response to the ills of the world.
What I love about Anno and Holiday sensei's book is that, as I can easily become preoccupied with the moral failings of this great man, they remind me of his greatness, a moral vision that far transcended his own humanity. He, like all the best of us, reached for something beyond--not only others, but beyond himself.