Today, most military regimes have either given way to some form of democracy or been transformed into another form of authoritarianism. This article formulates a framework for the analysis of the detachment of militaries from politics and applies it to the case of Burma/Myanmar, which is an example of deeply entrenched military rule. It is argued that after the retreat from direct rule the military is still in control, although the regime has embarked on a series of reforms that have liberalized the political system. The article identifies the internal dynamics within the military regime as a prime motive. External factors played only an indirect role, as the growing dependence on China was seen as a threat among nationalistic circles. The military decided to bridge the internal impasse and end the external isolation only after it consolidated its own power, finally allowing the leadership succession to run smoothly.