Representitive Charles Rangel wants to bring back the draft. I say good idea.
The "All-Volunteer Force" is a mercenary force...let's not mince words here. Some people certainly enlist in the military because they feel that it is there civic duty, but most do it in large part for the money (or future career/money prospects). If we did away with very hefty enlistment and re-enlistment bonuses, we would have no military. And even with bonuses that can exceed $100,000 tax-free in the first five years (enlistment bonus, re-enlistment bonus and specialty pay bonuses), we still need to contract out a huge proportion of logistical and support functions (and many combat functions) to "real" mercenaries.
There are problems with employing a mercenary military. The foremost, in my mind, is the divide that builds between people who make decisions to employ the military and people who serve in the military. The military, as Clauswitz said, is politics by other means. And it is dirty work. It is always a tempting option to have someone else do your dirty work, but when the question boils down to "do you, personally, want to engage in this dirty work," then the military tends to be much more judiciously utilized. There are lots of people out there in America who "support the war," or at the very least "support the troops" (I still haven't figured out what that amounts to). But there are not many people who support it or them enough to go take part themselves. There are plenty of excuses--but let me disabuse you of at least one: if you are less than 60 years old, male or female, the Arkansas national guard will let you enlist and will ship you off to Iraq within months to help guard convoys. I actually know one person (Rowe Stayton of Lakewood, Colorado) who was 55 when he decided that ne needed to "do his part" and enlist. But you have a job, or a family, you say? Mr. Stayton had both--actually, he was an attorney with his own successful firm, but he enlisted and spent 12 months in Iraq as a military policeman. Stayton joined as a Sergeant in the Army because that was where the need was greatest, even though he had previously served 11 years as a Major and F-15 pilot in the US Air Force. While I question his stance and decision, I do not question his entitlement to legitimately claim that he supports the war and the troops. But a mercenary military allows a large segment of the American population to declare that they support the war, or that they support the troops, all while comfortable in the knowledge that someone else will to the actual dirty work.
States that employ a mercenary military make far less judicious decisions about when and how to employ that military. History bears this out. There is a long history of discourse in the Western Tradition (I can't comment on this same tradition elsewhere out of ignorance) about the importance of the citizen soldier. The Romans (at least during portions of the Republic) undestood the importance of a citizen soldier to the fabric of society. Greeks before them undesrtood the same. Citizen-Militias were the founding backbone of America. Heinlein's "Starship Troopers" (The classic book, not the movie) dealt effectively with the importance of the citizen soldier in the fabric of society. A draft--when done properly, without loopholes for the wealthy, priviledged, or connected--creates a strong society with citizen soldiers.
This is not merely an issue for states. Tribes and tribal conflict is perhaps the epitome of the citizen soldier. The citizen soldier is a critical structural institution. It's easy to say that "this war is worth while," or to cite causus belli. But is it worth you putting your life on the line, or the life of your sons or granddaughters? A draft helps ensure that military action passes the latter test. Here is the critical structural distinction: when the military action in question is legitimately an action in self-defense (even if proactive self-defense), then the answer is almost invariably YES. If the action is offensive, aggressive, exploitative, or a product of hierarchy, then the answer is almost invariably NO. The calculus is entirely different when you are considering employing a mercenary military.
So, while I understand that most readers don't support the war in Iraq, and don't have any interest in joining the military (and I wholeheartedly agree), I do think that a well-constructed draft is a good idea. This is not merely an issue for America, or for large overgrown hierarchies in general. It is a general maxim of societal constrution, a maxim of decentralization, rhizome, sustainability. Citizen Soldiers are more likely to engage in defensive, not offensive wars. They are not a foolproof end to war, but when combined with other elements of decentralization and localization they bring us to the broader concept of a rhizome military that is structurally incapable of engaging in offensive warfare. The ultimate, structural goal is to ensure that the decision makers are personally willing to engage in the dirty work. Put Jenna Bush behind an M-60 on top of a Hummer transiting Route Tampa from Kuwait to Baghdad and see how long we "stay the course."