You don't have to name names (though that would help for context, if you're so inclined), but is this to say that these senior aikidoka view hitting as never being necessary in any scenario within or outside of the dojo, up to and including self defense? I'm asking for clarification because the OP is putting a premium on atemi for effectiveness outside of the cooperative confines of much of modern aikido.
Setting aside arts and styles, if someone's not willing to at least do something common sense like stomp on someone's foot or poke an eye to help get out of harm's way and see the next sunrise, well, good luck with that.
Exactly this, "outside of the cooperative confines of much of modern aikido".
What I find interesting is that even in the internal CMA, the element of striking exists. And it is a really a big misconception (not a criticism addressed to anyone in this thread, just an observation) to assert that not striking is a philosophical/spiritual thing and this seems one of the things that might make many aikidokas (especially beginners) feel in a way "morally superior".
Bringing in the senior aikidokas, I think it avoids the question. In this example we can talk about an "attacker" who is also senior in another fighting system, and to my understanding people who reach a certain level in their MA training become more understanding/wise towards the triviality of a street fight...Senior aikidokas are another breed. Since the post has to do with a self defence situation, it makes little sense to talk about a 10 year long education, just to achieve (only) that skill set.
Regarding "the cooperative confines": It is broadly accepted, that outside the cooperative confines of the JJJ dojos, 2nd belts in BJJ can successfully take down black belts in JJJ. Even Randori is strictly outlined. Personally, I do not have any boxing skills, but I do have a strong sense of balance and used to have a very good awareness (both skills gained from my former Cheng Hsin training). Now, I am pretty sure, if I protect my balance and raise my awareness and start boxing, very few Shodans in my dojo will be able to defend properly. In a recent training in the dojo, with knife attacks, the nage could simply not perform the technique, because I didn't want to give my balance away. And you know what the nage said? I was not "committed" enough.. Apparently, the cooperative confines of Aikido need an uke who has no sense of their body, balance and improvisation abilities. and this is called "committed". In my dictionary, committed means a person who does all they can in their abilities to perform something. And giving my balance away, or leaving my hand/arm hanging forever (instead of pulling back) for nage to grab is not commitment. It is illusion. I know this will come back to the necessity of Kata discussion, but the problem is that even in Randori, neither real commitment nor real atemi is used.
I read recently an account of the fight between Wong Jack Man (Northern Saolin) and Bruce Lee (Wing Chun) The essence I gained from it was the actual moral superiority of Wong who (apparently) could use his system's more offensive techniques, but decided not to do so. And this is a behaviour from someone trained in a hard, physical, external style. (http://www.kungfu.net/brucelee.html
I think it was Jon who noted in a neighbouring thread that Aikido is an education and its ethos comes from those who teach it. I used to consider the hard arts, without any ethos, but I was wrong. The fact that a more aggressive group of people was/is drown to them does not diminish their quality (I am talking about the eastern MA external and internal).
To me the only valid point that can be made, is in terms of the integration of striking to the mechanics of the Aikido movement. If it degrades the other aspects of the art, it obviously has no place in it. But I cannot express any opinion on that as I am not that advanced.
Sorry for the long post. Rainy day.