The draft is obsolete. It has as much military value as a smoothbore cannon or a Sopwith Camel. Like an antique musket it is maintained more to preserve the past than to prepare for the future. Ending Selective Service could be an important symbolic and cost saving gesture.
Curiously, over this past decade many hawks and doves alike have pushed for a revival of the draft. Pro-draft hawks believe that the draft will improve combat effectiveness. Pro-draft doves believe that it will make Congress and ordinary citizens alike think twice before supporting a war. I’ll address the hawk argument first.
Our modern military has become increasingly specialized. Current doctrine stresses quality over quantity. This is why the Army turned down many applicants even when it wasn’t meeting recruiting goals. (It’s meeting those goals now, though that may be due to the recession.) There are many qualifications for being in the military, and I would argue that the most important one is that the recruit has to believe in what he is fighting for. Forcing people who are opposed to the war into the military creates a huge security risk. It would be like putting a PETA member to work in a laboratory that tests medicine on animals.
Some people think that a peacetime draft would deter members of Congress from voting in favor of the next war or global contingency operation. But any politician cynical enough to send your kid but not his own can simply pull the strings to keep his offspring in the rear.
I’ve even heard people say that everyone has an obligation to serve in the military. National defense may be an important field, but so is agriculture and healthcare. I’ve never heard anyone insist that I am obligated to work as a farmer or a nurse.
If President Obama gets rid of Selective Service, it would set an example. If other nations follow this example, it will significantly reduce future conflicts.