Yes! Mr. Cronin! Aikido is completely paradoxal!!! What a challenge to reconcile that fact, or, to simply accept that it's okay. Practice with an open mind gives one the ability to defend oneself efficiently (and if needed devastatingly).....and..... have compassion for your attacker.
"Budo is love" is not separate from the fact that aikido is a powerful martial art.
On a less esoteric level; I remember an interview with Steven Seagal, way back when he was a misunderstood martial artist/movie star (chuckle), where he said (I paraphrase): "When you choose to show compassion (in a combative situation) then you must have the physical ability to back that up, otherwise it's not a choice." True.
So, aikido practise is a way to see ourselves without pretense and in so doing realize we have a choice in every action we take. That choice is measured by our physical ability, to a certain extent, to back it up.
I'm quite likely wrong but I will endeavour to continue questioning the paradox that aikido presents to me everyday....,and maybe that's the point?