I know allot of people try to follow O'Sensei's philosophy and as a result of many things gravitate to one of the extremes. The soft Aikido end of the spectrum is being talked about here and isn't favored because of its seeming unrealistic view, and poor showing.
I want to throw a new spice into the soup, I think that the soft Aikido is the most difficult to achieve than the other extreme being hard Aikido. My criticism with the soft Aikido isn't the goal or if it is possible, effective, etc. it is those who really don't understand the soft end and are not good at it, but advocate publicly. Beside throwing in their own flavoring in the pot of soft Aikido. It is damaging to the idea and credibility of soft Aikido. Boy, does it also give the hard Aikido people ammo to attack the idea of soft Aikido.
I don't think soft Aikido is about soft people. O.K. then what is soft Aikido about, it is about the approach and application of the full use of skills applied effectively to a dangerous situation at hand. I think some people because of their meek nature feel Aikido should be practiced and applied meekly and passively like soft Aikido. By taking that route your abilities don't match up to the threat your are forced to face. As the ye ol' sayings go, your only as good as your training, and perfect practice makes perfect. Btw, as for the other extreme, hard Aikido, it suffers from the same conditions. No control, over aggressive, narrow perspectives, etc.
Everyone takes Aikido for different reasons, and not all of us will every have to use it on the street or as professionals. Bunches of people take Aikido for recreation, social, and spiritual reasons. I would say less take it for fighting. Even though many would agree O'Sensei didn't seem to be your typical meek and passive person. A person with a strong spirit, but not violent spirit. Maybe a person with a hot temper, but not a violent temper. Certainly, he wasn't Gandhi, I mean there are pictures of him where he is someone you wouldn't want to mess with. Despite those poses and moments of intense concentration, he wasn't a person who would injure or kill you if you angered him, as possibly done by those Japanese military officers document in WWII. I think that is what is the gauge we measure what violence by and what is peace when he speaks -based on his life experiences.
In a way soft Aikido is probably the most effective and refined Aikido, it is just that some people don't see it that way.