Dana Milbank makes an exceptionally poor case for reinstating the draft:
There is no better explanation for what has gone wrong in Washington in recent years than the tabulation done every two years of how many members of Congress served in the military.
It shouldn’t take much time to recognize that this makes no sense at all. There are probably at least a dozen better explanations for political dysfunction and incompetence in Washington than the lack of veterans in Congress, and it is strange to think that filling up Congress with more people with military experience would remedy any of these other problems. It is possible that members of Congress would be less willing to permit presidents to wage so many unnecessary wars if more of them had previously served in the military, but even that is far from certain. There is no reason to believe that having more members of Congress with military experience would improve the functioning of the legislative branch. Even if there were some reason to think this would work, it is a very inadequate reason to propose reinstating the draft.
The things that Milbank declares to be “no coincidence” are, in fact, coincidences. Mounting debt is the result of decades of refusing to raise sufficient revenues to pay for a steadily expanding and increasingly expensive welfare state. It has nothing to do with electing people that haven’t served in the military. Greatly expanding the size of the military and using the military as a gigantic social experiment will in all likelihood add to the debt. Having more Congressmen with military experience won’t necessarily produce more legislative compromise, and it is sloppy to assume that participation in a national institution will make someone less partisan or more ideologically flexible. Depending on how Milbank’s expanded military is used, bringing back the draft could produce large numbers of radicalized citizens angry that they were forced to fight in the latest foolish and unnecessary war. Universal conscription guarantees nothing except the diminution of the freedom of Americans. Bringing it back would yield nothing but greater disaffection from and hostility to the government than already exists.