Mark Esper, former defense secretary under President Donald Trump, recently released a memoir which claimed that the former president had asked about the possibility of shooting missiles into Mexico to target drug labs run by cartels. While Esper painted this question as a potential (and “inappropriate”) attack on our southern neighbor, Trump’s proposal shouldn’t be cast aside just yet.

Suggestions such as his are necessary to facilitate a broader conversation that our leaders need to be having about how to effectively protect American citizens living near the Mexico border. From the widespread domination of murderous drug cartels, to the relentless flow of lethal drugs across the border, Americans are in serious danger living in this hostile environment. Flagrant anarchy demonstrated by Mexican thugs is on full display, and such criminality is compelling enough to elicit a military response on our end. Time is of the essence when American lives are in danger. Immediate action needs to be taken to restore order and peace, and in order for an effective policy to be generated, creative discussion must be promoted. The fact that the U.S. hasn’t been able to mitigate this foreign threat yet proves that we are in no position to shoot down ideas before they are fully developed. Perhaps it is worth our time to look at what suggestions such as Trump’s actually seek to accomplish, in the hopes that with more open-ended conversations, our lawmakers will be able to quickly reach solutions that Americans at the border so desperately need.

The central question of Esper’s claim revolves around the proper use of the armed forces. The armed forces exist to defend American citizens and safeguard American interests. When American lives are threatened by a foreign enemy, the U.S. military has a sworn duty to protect them. The lawlessness in Mexico poses a grave danger to the security of American citizens—urgent enough a threat to require militarized action to stop it. Our military and its resources need to be put to good use, and more importantly, be led by a president who knows how and when to use them. Discussions on prudent American military action regarding the criminality at the Mexican border should be encouraged all the more.

Criminal offenses such as drug trafficking, human smuggling, organized gang violence, kidnapping, hostage-taking, and homicide, committed by Mexican thugs against Americans, have turned towns along the southern border into something akin to a war zone. Many of Esper’s objections to Trump’s proposals are predicated on the belief that an attack on these drug labs is an attack on an American ally. This is not true. The drug cartels and their reign of terror are under the jurisdiction of the Mexican government, yet no action is being taken to stop them. Reports have come out exposing the Mexican police’s willingness to turn a blind eye to the cartels’ activities, and even the police’s collaboration with gangs for bribes. U.S. citizens have disappeared at the hands of the Mexican military (or at least gangs posing as the military), so the trustworthiness of this branch of government has also been sorely tarnished. There have even been incidents of Mexican soldiers crossing onto American soil and disarming American soldiers. Though Mexican military officials claimed that their men made only a simple mistake by believing that the Americans trespassed onto their territory, this only proves the disorganization of Mexico’s armed forces. Mexico has become too weak and too corrupt, and Americans are paying the price.

Mexico is clearly unable to put an end to the lawlessness that has been terrorizing Americans living along the border. Trump understood the danger that such drug labs posed to American citizens. His proposal is a step in the right direction towards ending this unbridled Mexican criminality and offering relief to those who most need it. The U.S is only doing our nation a disservice if our leaders are too restrictive and narrow-minded in their parameters for possible solutions. For how serious of a threat Mexican anarchy poses, the more free-flowing the conversations are, the sooner an effective and lasting solution can be achieved