I'm having this issue quite a bit now. I can't publish services from ArcMap. The failure appears to be the publishing task is not fully populated. For a while it seemed intermittent, so I've ignored it, but now it's pretty constant.
1. I can access and administer the server via catalog and web manager -- the server seems fine in that regards. I can access services and the rest directory etc...
2. If I save the draft and publish via the web manager, all good. So again server seems fine and service definition is ok once created.
3. Server logs don't show anything so it doesn't appear to even be getting as far as exchanging any communication with the server.
4. I stooped/started the publishing tools on the server. Same result.