I don't think anyone is saying style X is the best. Personally, I think only one person on this thread is disparaging an art, but I may have misunderstood their comments. My impression was we were asking if the style an individual trains in does make a difference or if success is determined solely by the fighter.
Therefore, I'm afraid I don't understand when you say:
I see nothing wrong with the idea that if you are looking for straight combat you should begin somewhere besides aikido. At the same time, fighters should recognize that the elements from which they forge their specific techniques are address very directly in aikido.
Are you claiming all martial techniques are really aikido? Are you claiming that aikido addresses or has responses to all martial techniques? Do either of those points help answer the original question?