This discussion might be on the verge of swallowing its own tail, but here's a series of suppositions to play with.
Saito's weapons style is Osensei's weapons style. Osensei repeatedly stressed the cross-applicability of weapons training and empty-hand training. The empty hand techniques are effective at least in part because the weapons techniques are effective. And finally, if Saito's style differs from other styles, it might be for reasons that the longtime practitioners of said styles don't understand (you all know how easy it is to look at anything you're not an expert in and say,'why do they do it that way?').
So I am going to proceed on the assumption that there is value in Saito's/Osensei's work, and do my best to figure out why they do it that way. So for instance, what I now know as ukenagashi has usually been shown to me in working against a jo or other long instrument, so maybe we are in agreement there.
Regarding passing up opportunities, that is precisely what we do when we deliver a non-bruising atemi (we call the bruising kind "hematemis"), in the interests of finding a technique instead. It really isn't so much that an opportunity has been passed up, as that the structure of the response is different.
Likewise, giving the attacker something to attack, sometimes a lot to attack, is a very aiki thing; I like the idea of directing the attacker's force, without their necessarily being aware of it. And this seems to apply to many arts, with and without weapons. Leaving no opening can be a lovely thing, but it doesn't resolve anything.
Next, having a weapon out does not necessarily mean that homicide must follow, and certainly not in Aikido.
Finally, I completely agree that any functional art must have a valid marriage of tactics, strategy, mechanics, and methodology. And it was the pursuit of that which prompted the original question.
Oh, and Mr. Blomquist, the kumitachi's I know are numbered one through five; in #'s 1 and 2, one or both of the partners assumes a jodan position, without moving the right foot back.
And everyone, how do you get the "so-and-so wrote" quote segments inserted?