Eh. This whole debate about non-violent and offense and defense could go on for longer than any of us will be alive, and honestly? In this case, I think it's a complete waste of time. Robert, I think your best bet is to just set aside your preconceptions and anything that you think you have figured out about aikido, and just go see some dojos. Ask yourself one simple question: does what you see on the mat look like something you'd like to do three or four times a week? Never mind what it's for (or what you think it's for). What you see on the mat? That's the path. If it's not one you want to walk, then all the discussion and debate about what it's all for is beside the point.
The trick is to find out if what's in the dojo even "is" aikido.
The further we go from O Sensei, the weirder things get that promote themselves as aikido.
When you encounter real aikido, you understand why Ueshiba said "Aikido kills the opponent at a single blow"
When you run into the fake stuff, they naves are asking whether they are actually supposed to throw or intend to throw or whether it's all like... accidental... or should it be on purpose? And don't forget to be "aiki," meaning... not sure, exactly... like "don't be disagreeable" or something like that.
Aikido is the most powerful, devastating and effective martial art in the world. Otherwise, it would have disappeared in the 1930s. As it is, I guess it started disappearing around 1960 or so. And since O Sensei died, it's really hard to find.