Aikido practitioners should make up their mind on what they want Aikido to be and do. In doing that, from a martial perspective, I think Aikido should not feel pressed to address the dueling discourse that currently dominates our self-defense commercial market. Philosophically, I think Aikidoka should stick to their arena of dealing with assaultive behavior and mentalities because there is a deeper and more useful truth in that than in trying to figure out how to apply Aikido to dueling environments. Even commercially, I think Aikidoka should again stick to this position. There is no way, in my opinion, that Aikido can address the combative assumptions of the dueling culture without either doing so poorly or without degenerating the art into something it is not, or something in the end that is incapable of addressing assaultive behavior and/or combat environments. Today, popular Aikido is primarily populated by two groups: one group that further insulates itself from the larger martial purpose, and one group that feels pressed to identify Aikido with and in terms of the MMA discourse. The first group is slowing losing its numbers, like any group that stays away from others, and the second group is losing their art. I would propose a third option be found and practiced, one that acknowledges that the problem is not that the art is traditional but that we are not traditional enough in our understanding of the art.
You're right. O'sensei did not duel others. He escorted people through battlefields and gunfire, and his students picked fights with Yakuza members and gangs.
You're right, Aikidoka need to make up their mind, about what they want to do. Aikido is a martial art, O'sensei founded it through combat, and all his students developed their skills through combat. In duels and otherwise. Aikido is Aikido, and Aikido is martial. So aikidoka need to ask themselves; are they training in a martial art? Or are they wasting their time?