WASHINGTON – The Biden administration’s number two diplomat is retiring after decades of U.S. government service.
Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman will step down from the post this summer, having been involved in some of the most consequential, and controversial, foreign policy decisions during Democratic administrations since Bill Clinton was president.
Sherman, 73, said in an internal note to State Department staff that her retirement would be effective at the end of June.
“The arc of history will only bend toward justice if people of conscience steer it in the right direction,” she said. “That it is our job to have courage, to collaborate with others and seek out common ground, to persist against the odds, to use our voice and our power for good—to keep faith with the promise of our democracy and to never, ever lose hope.”
“Diplomacy is not for the faint of heart,” she added.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken lauded Sherman’s career, saying that President Joe Biden chose her for the number two post at the State Department because he believed she could revitalize America’s relationships around the world.
“President Biden asked Wendy to serve in this role because he knew he could count on her to help revitalize America’s alliances and partnerships and manage our complex relationships with competitors,” Blinken said in a statement.
Sherman has been a key part of the Biden administration's efforts to compete with China in the Indo-Pacific and was particularly active in engagement with Pacific island states while also meeting with senior Chinese officials on numerous occasions.
She also had a significant role in marshaling international diplomatic support for Ukraine after Russia's invasion.
As counselor to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Sherman was a lead negotiator in the Clinton administration’s ultimately unsuccessful talks to end North Korea’s ballistic missile program in the late 1990s.
Then, as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs during the Obama administration, she was the lead negotiator with Iran on the 2015 nuclear deal.
For each of those endeavors — North Korea and Iran — Sherman was heavily criticized by Republicans who alleged she had made unnecessary concessions.
“Her remarkable career – which spans more than three decades, three presidents, and five secretaries of state – addressed some of the toughest foreign policy challenges of our time,” Blinken said. “Our nation is safer and more secure, and our partnerships more robust, due to her leadership.”